Jokes on them
Bulls’ outfield looks to lead with powerful offense, jovial attitude
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 22:02
The outfield is the core of the Bulls’ roster this spring, and its members have been going extra hard to make sure they can carry the weight.
The unit has aimed to be most intense when it comes to lifting, and the athletes believe all the weight training will give them an edge over other teams.
“I’d put us up against any team in the nation that we could out-lift them,” said senior outfielder Jason Kanzler. “We are probably the strongest team in the nation.”
In 2012, Kanzler used that strength to earn second-team All-Mid-American Conference recognition.He didn’t just use upper-body strength, though; Kanzler is a dual-threat player. He swiped 17 bases last season in addition to eight home runs, 40 RBIs and five triples.
“The more you can prepare off the field for your athletic endeavors on the field, it’s just going to be easier when the time comes,” Kanzler said. “Our bodies won’t be aching and at the end of the season, we’ll be primed, ready to go.”
Senior Matt Pollock joins Kanzler in the outfield. Pollock returns after a monster 2012 season in which he was named to the All-MAC and All-Mideast region teams. Pollock also ranked 24th nationally in slugging percentage, 26th in runs scored per game and 31st in total bases.
Pollack batted .357 with a .447 on-base percentage and a .638 slugging percentage last season, all while cranking 12 home runs and 44 RBIs.
Buffalo lost Dan Scahill to graduation last year, and the squad will look to junior Thomas Richards to fill the void. Richards joins Kanzler and Pollock in an experienced outfield.
“Scahill was a good outfielder, so big shoes to fill there,” Richards said. “Playing with guys like Kanzler and [Pollock] will only raise your talent. We’re probably the best outfield in the MAC. We’re definitely the strongest. In the weight room, we crush it.”
Last year, Richards batted .289, hit four home runs and drove in 24 runs.
Richards came into the 2012 season weighing about 180 pounds. He's benefited from the weight lifting program and comes into the season weighing 225 pounds. The Bulls hope to have added pop from him in the lineup this season.
“I think we’ve corn-fed him enough to drop some more bombs for us,” Kanzler said. “He’ll be fine. He’ll be a good replacement and he’ll hit the crap out of the ball.”
The outfielders are close knit, and though they get serious in the weight room, they like to keep things light-hearted.
“We always have something to make fun of each other, but with that comes a little extra push,” Richards said. “Even though we joke around, those jokes end up resulting in better efforts. We’re always in each other’s faces, screaming at each other, getting better every day.”
The outfield unit is equally imposing on defense. Kanzler, Pollock and Richards had a combined fielding percentage of .974 last year, as the trio only made three errors in a combined 148 games played over the course of last season.
Kanzler added to the defensive effort with his arm strength, assisting on 11 outs from the outfield in 2012.
“My philosophy is that you play as shallow as you can comfortably play so that you can take away those bleeders over the infielders’ heads,” Kanzler said. “So in that regard, we kind of shrink the field for the opposing team. So that helps the infielders out a lot.”
The Buffalo outfield trio hopes to build on a hot finish to the 2012 season; the Bulls made an improbable run to the semifinals in the MAC Tournament.
“We drop bombs and we have fun,” Kanzler said. “We give the fans what they want to see. We hit the ball.”