Press Conference Notes: Corbin ‘fortunate’ for opportunity to take the field amidst pandemic

As Vanderbilt baseball took the field for its first official spring training Friday, Tim Corbin, Cooper Davis and Kumar Rocker addressed the media to discuss what’s in store.

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Brent Szklaruk

Cooper Davis (left) and Tim Corbin (right) share a conversation at third base.

Simon Gibbs, Sports Editor

Vanderbilt baseball kicked off its 2021 season on Friday, as the student-athletes took to Hawkins Field for their first official day of training. Though their season opener isn’t until Feb. 19, when the VandyBoys will host Wright State for a three-game, non-conference series, Tim Corbin in his first press conference of the spring expressed a sense of gratitude that his team had even made it this far.

“We had our first day of training today, so we’re excited,” Corbin said, echoing the elation of Commodore fans. “I think we were just fortunate enough to get back on campus because as I told the boys, it wasn’t a slam dunk that we were going to be able to come back. We didn’t take that for granted.” 

Corbin has a point—after the 2020 season was cut short due to COVID-19, the first day of training may have seemed, at times, like a pipedream. But now, the Commodores prepare to take the field after a unique offseason saw them spend more time apart and less time on the practice field.

“[The offseason] was just longer,” Corbin said Friday. “They were home longer than they’ve ever been before, so they just wanted to get back here.”

And in a year like no other, the Commodores’ roster certainly looks the part. While Vanderbilt may still be the reigning national champions, it returns zero of the 11 student-athletes that saw the field in Game Three of the 2019 College World Series. With an extremely young roster, the up-and-coming underclassmen may lean on some of the veterans for guidance.

Luckily, they’ve got a good place to start: junior pitcher Kumar Rocker, the projected first overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft.

“The biggest thing I can say to [the freshmen] is really just pay attention to detail in practice,” Rocker said Friday, when asked of his advice to young players. “Then as the season moves forward, they’ll start to get a grasp themselves. We’ve got a lot of big personalities, and we’ve got a lot of swagger, too. So I think that’s going to play in this conference.”

Rocker will assume the role of a team leader, joined by senior outfielder Cooper Davis—both of whom may not have appeared in Game Three of the 2019 World Series, but played a pivotal role in getting Vanderbilt to that point.

“I tried to learn from people that were seniors when I was a freshman,” Davis said Friday. “It’s really just [about] getting the freshmen in, getting them integrated as fast as possible, and I think we did a really good job this fall, to be able to have a full fall training schedule that allowed us to really show the freshmen how we do things at Vanderbilt.”

According to Corbin, a much younger, deeper roster than in years past calls for an immense sense of organization. It’s up to the coaches to be meticulous about “the structure of [each] day,” he said, but the student-athletes will have to learn “to have some patience.”

“We feel like we’ve gotten a lot of individual things done with the group,” Corbin said. “So we’re just looking forward to moving forward.”