Hunter: Chris Cotton’s been put into a “hybrid” role with plans to use him as the Sunday starter if he’s not needed out of the bullpen on Friday or Saturday. What is it about his game that makes you confident he can handle those responsibilities?
Dunn: “The most important thing is Chris’s ability to do that role. The things that he did last year for us, pitching in the middle of the game, pitching at the end of the game, the only thing he didn’t do for us was start, but we had the chance to send him out in the summer and he had a couple of starts. He’s filled every role that’s a possibility of what he might do this year. He’s done everything. Having the skills to be able to do that is obviously a big part of us feeling comfortable that Chris Cotton can be that hybrid type guy.”
Would you consider Cotton to be your most reliable arm out of the bullpen?
“Yeah, you have to look at what he did last year. With his record and the pitchability he had, he’s definitely been a stabilizer out there. He had such a crucial part all season, but definitely toward the end. He was at South Carolina when we won the SEC. It’s such a big role that he’s going to have.”
Is it possible for Cotton to appear out of the bullpen on Friday night and still start on Sunday?
“We’re not ruling out anything. Our key at this point is to take it one game at a time. On Friday night, we’re going to do what we need to do to be successful. Whatever that brings on Friday night, and whatever we feel is the best scenario, that’s what we’re going to do. Then we’ll look at the next game and the next game and see how it lines up.”
Looking down the road, could Cotton move into the bullpen full-time if you find he’s more valuable in that role?
“The decisions we’ll make will hit us right in the face. The only to make those decisions is based one experience and how the games are going. It will all come together and we’ll have that plan on how we’re going to use our guys.”
Brent Bonvillain’s being counted on as the next guy in line to take over as the third starter if Cotton can’t go. What has he shown in this offseason that’s made you so confident in his ability?
“Brent had some big innings for us last year. He went away this summer and did very well. He came back and had a really good fall. He’s continued to take that next step into being a quality guy we can count on. His arm bounces back, so he’s a guy we can a couple of different things with…It all comes down to taking care of business, but I like the progress he’s made, and I feel very good about giving him the ball in whatever situation.”
Kurt McCune was a starter going into last season before his struggles landed him in the bullpen. Now he’s in the mix for the closer spot. How has he embraced his new role on the pitching staff?
“Going into last season, Kurt was in the rotation. He ended up going back in the pen, but he’s totally over that and the ball’s really coming out of his hand well. I’ve been very impressed with how he’s throwing. Here’s a guy that has experience. He has that to draw from because he know what it takes to pitch in the SEC. He’s got two-years experience, he’s a strike thrower, and all those things make us feel very good with what Kurt McCune is going to bring. He’s going to be a vital part of what we’re going to do. His role will evolve, but we’re excited about Kurt being in that pen.”
We’ve seen many different versions of Ryan Eades through his career. At times he’s dominant, and at times he struggles. Which Ryan Eades have you seen during these weeks leading up to the season?
“A consistent Ryan Eades. That’s the thing that Ryan Eades is working on constantly. That’s the thing that separates guys, is being able to harness that consistency. Ryan Eades is a very gifted pitcher…He did have some success at the end of the season, and that’s an indication of what Ryan Eades has. We’re counting on him and Aaron Nola to be our two horses. We need them go out and take us deep in games to set the tone on what we’re trying to do as a pitching staff. Ryan Eades has the intestinal fortitude, the desire, the ability to go out and do that. He’s excited about getting this season going, and I’ve been pleased with how he’s throwing the ball.”
Cody Glenn is someone you’re considering to take the midweek role. He had that same opportunity as a freshman but struggled. How has he grown heading into his sophomore year?
“Taking that step from high school to college, some get it quicker than others. Cody came in here as a heralded left-handed arm. He had some opportunities, and he didn’t live up to his expectations. He went away this summer, and got a lot of innings in. He competed, and he’s better for that. He came back and threw the ball well. He’s hungry to live up to what he has set for himself. He’s right there in the mix, and the opportunities he’ll have, he’ll need to take. I feel very confident we’re going to see a guy that will do some good things this year.”
What’s the latest on Nick Rumbelow’s rehab?
“Good. He’ still a little bit away. There’s nobody working harder than that kid. If anybody can come back quickly, it’s him. It’s just a matter of us making sure he is 1100 percent when he comes back, because we’re going to need him for the long haul. He’s definitely to be back with us and he’s going to be a vital part to that bullpen.”