Roth, Price seem likely to return to USC
COLUMBIA -- With the chatter of a baseball three-peat wafting through the air around South Carolina's campus, what really are the odds of the Gamecocks claiming another national championship next year?
Late last week, a couple of days after the second title was won, it was something already on ace pitcher Michael Roth's mind.
"We're going to have to adapt to new guys and they'll have to adapt to us," he said. "You don't know what you're going to get. That's something tough to deal with, as a current player."
Roth, a 31st-round pick by the Cleveland Indians, has said nothing to make anyone believe he's considering a jump to pro ball.
Roth will not return until Aug. 8 from a study-abroad program in Spain. He has, half-jokingly, told the Indians to negotiate with his mom until he gets back. Once he gets home, the club would have a week to "knock his socks off," or he'll return for his senior season.
"If something shakes out in that week, then we'll see," Roth said. "I don't see them paying me the money it would take for me to leave school."
Roth went 14-3 with a 1.06 ERA in his first full season as a starter. The team went 3-0 in his three starts in Omaha, Neb., including the title-clinching win against Florida in which he went 7 2/3 innings and allowed a pair of runs.
Of those on the fence, closer Matt Price's situation is particularly intriguing. Those close to Price, a sixth-round pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks, say he's leaning toward coming back because he wants a chance to become a starter. That's something coach Ray Tanner has said would
likely happen if Price returned. Tanner joked about that when Price threw 95 pitches in a relief effort against Virginia in the CWS.
Price saved 20 games, more than anyone else in the nation, this past season. He and Roth were both named All-Americans by various organizations.
If Price is in the rotation, Forrest Koumas, who flourished as a freshman starter, could be a viable option to close games.
Outfielder Adam Matthews is another player who will weigh his options this summer. Matthews was selected in the 23rd round by the Baltimore Orioles. He's playing this summer with the Florence RedWolves of the wood-bat Coastal Plain League, trying to demonstrate to the Orioles that his injured left hamstring is fully healed. The injured leg caused him to miss more than two months of the season.
Replacing likely three-quarters of the starting infield, with the exception of first baseman Christian Walker, will be the most daunting task for Tanner and his staff.
Adrian Morales and Scott Wingo were seniors, and many believe shortstop Peter Mooney (21st round) will sign with Toronto.
"Next year's team could be completely different than this year's team, as far as mentality," Roth said. "Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but you have to adjust. Baseball is about constant adjustment."