Advertise with usContact UsRTI Team

Everything Tennessee Coach Tony Vitello Said After Series Opening Win Over Missouri

Tony Vitello
Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello. Photo By Ian Cox/Tennessee Athletics.

Tennessee baseball opened up its weekend series against Missouri with a bang, hitting a home run on the first at-bat of the bottom of the first inning before cruising to a 10-1 win.

Following the game, Tennessee coach Tony Vitello discussed Cannon Peebles first Volunteer home run, another strong outing from AJ Causey, former Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch and much more. Here’s everything Vitello said.

More From RTI: What To Know About Tennessee Baseball’s Series Opening Win At Missouri

On what Cannon Peebles home run can do for his confidence

“It can do a lot. It was pretty cool to see. I think it did just as much for his teammates as it did for him. They were thrilled and glad it worked out the way it did. Kind of call it getting the monkey off his back or whatever you want to throw on it. But the bottom line is the kid’s worked his butt off so anything he gets whether it’s a bloop hit or it goes over the fence the way it did, he deserves it. Had some lady yelling in me for bringing in a new pitcher late so you can criticize whatever strategy moves but that was one that worked because KT and Cannon were on that field until about 10:15 last night taking swings. So we had Cannon hit for KT and KT was happy to hand the baton off and said a couple good words to him, and it’s pretty neat how that deal worked out right there on top of kind of getting that thing past him. He’s a kid that try hard is never going to be an issue. If it is it’s going to be maximum effort and I think maybe it will allow him to relax and play, to finally answer your question.”

On what it says about the teammate that Cannon Peebles is

“He’s been an excellent teammate and you find yourself at times— we talk to the team, (and) we’re past the point where we can hand out charity. And no one loves a teammate factor as much as me and being a guy that was at the bottom of the depth chart for Coach Jamieson, who is in the other dugout, and he was always so good to me. You want to be good to the kids and reward them with repetitions but we’re kind of past that point. We have to plan for bigger things and be ambitious with the best version of our team we can be on the field. He’s fully capable of doing that and, like I said, he’s earned anything he gets but the one thing we’ve showed is we have a lot of different weapons that we can utilize. If everyone is just even coming close to what they’re capable of— not trying to do too much where they drown it out and then I hesitate to say someone not being focused, but just not being the best version of themselves. As long as we’re in that range where we’re close to being who we are then there’s a lot of weapons and a lot of guys who can be the guy on any given day. You’re not going to have all nine guys go crazy in the lineup on every day, but fortunately for this team we’re always going to have a couple guys who are a threat to help us produce.”

On the key to AJ Causey getting back on track

“I think it was just a moment in time where he realizes he was on a big stage and takes a time too much to look around and realize all that’s going on and a couple things kind of downward spiral starts, they snowball on him is what I want to say. I think it’s more about those moments being kind of a curb that he had to get over or even go around. I think he’s back to being who he was, being his true self for us. He’s been that way since he’s showed up and I’m not saying he hasn’t evolved in a few different ways because a part of evolving is getting your teeth kicked in a little bit. I think the best guys have to do that. Even if not, the best guys that I’ve been around— if you truly attack the zone the league will get you. And not just the league, college baseball. (Former NFL running back) Marshawn Lynch is the great American philosopher. I think he said ‘you’re gonna get got, but I’m not gonna get got’ or whatever he said. He can say it better than I can. He got got a couple times but he’s done pretty well since then.”

On if it’s more difficult to coach a guy who is too passionate or not passionate enough

“I don’t know which is more difficult. I’m having a difficult time trying to remember that exact quote. I’m going to go watch that on YouTube as soon as we get done. But I think what’s better – I don’t know what’s, to answer your question, what the accurate answer is for other coaches – what’s better is to have that fire burning too bright. To have a Drew Gilbert where he’s literally out of control as a freshman in the fall, but there is no day where you question whether Drew Gilbert is going to swing with conviction, whether he is willing to run through that wall (center field wall), so what you end up doing is you end up making adjustments where you say, ‘Hey, in practice, you’re not allowed to get near the wall anymore.’ That is a moment in time where you’re like, man, I’ve coached a lot of guys that are skittish around that, so that’s just a minor example of where you’d much rather have the fires burning too bright in a guy. Like Robin Villeneuve was a maniac in the cages today, and we recognized that, because he wants to do better, and he wants to be out there to contribute. And [Cannon] Peebles is like that all the time. You’d rather have to call a guy like Andre Lipcius in here who’s like, ‘Dude, that’s too many swings.’ That is better. I don’t know which is easier.”

On if AJ Causey’s bullpen role is tentative

“With him, I think he is such a valuable weapon. Frank was making fun of me in the corner of the dugout today because we were throwing around different ideas, and you’d like the guy to be able to pitch every day for you. It’s a challenging look for the hitters. It’s a guy who our team loves playing behind. He makes me feel at ease when he’s out there, even in moments where maybe a guy puts a big swing on one or he’s got the bases loaded, the tough situation in Kentucky, so you wish you could use him in a variety of ways. But I think for now, the bottom line is we get him for a big chunk of pitches – call it 75 to 100 – so when we first made a little bit of an adjustment against LSU, you can call it a different role, but at the end of the day, it’s the same thing we did when we started [the season] against Texas Tech. We were going to let AJ Russell start, but we knew we wanted him to have a big chunk of that very important game to us. So he is going to remain that way. It just may be fluid, where we are kind of able to do some different things with him.”

On what he likes about everyone’s approach at the plate

“Coach E (Josh Elander) does such a good job of getting guys to make adjustments based on the situation. Tonight, he puts on two bunt plays, and in both innings, we end up hitting a home run. So you’re kind of combining the small ball thing with being able to drive the ball. But as the season goes on, and in particular, we might as well talk about the most important day of the season which is tomorrow, we’re going to have to be able to score in a variety of ways. So far, our guys have done a nice job of adding a pretty good rolodex of different ways whether it’s battling with two strikes – we’ve been able to take some walks, there’s been some guys take some hit-by-pitches more recently, as painful as it might be, and getting a bunt down – so you have to get, I don’t think creative is quite the word, but you have to get in the mode where you are almost constantly trying to solve that puzzle of ‘How do I be the best version of myself but not ignore the circumstances of who is on the mound, what team we’re playing, what’s going on with the zone that day or the scoreboard and what the score is?’ So, they do a nice job of navigating through that, and I think they have good leadership to do it.”

On Josh Elander’s role with the offense being so explosive

“I think it’s taking that strength they get out of the weight room from Q [strength coach Quentin Eberhardt] and applying it the right way. From the first pitch we had tonight, that was pretty cool. We are already hyped up about next fall for the football team, but this is not a sport where you can enforce your will and hit someone really hard – run into someone as hard as you can. It’s a different kind of intensity in baseball. So, I think because he was that big strong guy with immense power and had to learn how to become a complete hitter at a high level in college and some pro ball, he can speak the language to those guys. I was never in those shoes, in those spots where the other team’s scouting report revolved around me. Or the pitcher is making the adjustment and I need to sit on this pitch in this situation. Again, I think he leans on his experience and is able to relay that to the guys in a way where they really trust him.”

On what was different for Chris Stamos tonight

“You know, not to discredit the guy he was facing tonight, but [Kentucky leadoff man] [Ryan] Waldschmidt is a maniac. He starts that inning off the way he did and after that he was fine. He only faced a couple of guys. We made the decision and you’ve got to live and die with your decisions. I think the guys are on board and trust the coaches this year, which is awesome. We trust them. That means we feel like we can move some different pieces around and hit Colby Backus tonight. I didn’t see anything that was poor last week. I think he was in a better rhythm in then two home games than maybe that one. Overall, he’s been great for sure and kind of know what you’re going to get. You talk about that fire, he’s going to be intense and he’s going to give you everything he’s got until you take him out of the game. I think a credit to the leadoff hitter he faced at Kentucky more than anything.”

On Blake Burke’s 31-game hit-streak coming to an end, how impressive that streak is

“You can call me a liar, but…..His takes weren’t very good tonight at all. They were reminiscent of freshman year and I asked somebody ‘what’s he doing?’ They brought that up. I didn’t know. I did know at Kentucky as he smoked a ball to right field and someone said that he had kept it alive. I just didn’t know and maybe not reading into that stuff. Of course, the crowd started cheering. He has the record? [asking the media and Eric Cain says yes] Ok, so we are good. Blake Burke is going to be just fine. Maybe it’s good that he’s got that behind him. Obviously, there’s no infinity for any of those streaks. I can make a bad underwear joke with streaks. I don’t think we are trying to accomplish every individual achievement we can with our guys. I’m playing off what they talk about in the locker room and out on the field. They want to win. So, it’s a situation that’s different. Obviously, he looked like he was struggling a little bit tonight because he was pressing. If you do have a hit-streak going on and we asked you to bunt like we did with Cal [Stark]. And you get hit by a pitch like Reese Chapman did and you also hit a ball like CMO [Christian Moore] did to the second baseman, and it was an absolute missile but that’s your only three at-bats, how’s that not a good night at the plate? I’ll take Blake Burke 0-for-4 or 5-for-5 any day of the week. And he’s already kind of established himself as a Vol. He’s his own guy but JP [Arencibia], Todd [Helton] – any of them. He’s a Vol legend.”  

Similar Articles


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tweet Us