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Who's on first? MSU's Collins says he's ready

February 16, 2011

Ryan Collins follows through on a swing during a game for MSU last season. (Kim Murrell/SDN)

One of the question marks going into the 2011 baseball season for Mississippi State is the position of first base.
After the departure of Conner Powers, the Bulldogs have been looking for a replacement.
MSU baseball coach John Cohen has several options when it comes to patrolling the first base bag.
Depending on matchups, that responsibility may partly be given to Ryan Collins.
Collins was approached after the Christmas break and was asked if he had any experience at first base.
While at Rutherford High School in Panama City, Fla., Collins pitched and played first base.
Collins has primarily been an outfielder during his career with the Bulldogs and knows moving to the infield can be considered a big jump and something not normally seen, but he has welcomed the transition.
"I feel comfortable over there and I like being over there," Collins said. "It really wasn't that big of a move for me, but it had been a while and took a little bit to get the rust off.
"It's going to help our team get more bats in the lineup. It will give us more flexibility. I feel like it's going to benefit everyone else."
Cohen likes what Collins brings to the table at first base.
"He is an incredibly athletic first baseman," Cohen said. "We aren't given up on the fact that we will have to play him in the outfield sometimes, but the things he has shown us over the last two months have been phenomenal."
If Collins does see time for Mississippi State at first, he follows a long line of power-hitters at the position, including names like Will Clark, Tommy Raffo and former teammate Powers.
It wasn't uncommon to see those players put up double-digit home runs for the Bulldogs, but Collins said don't look for that kind of production from him.
After Collins put up back-to-back three home run and 23 RBI seasons in 2008 and 2009, he did not hit a baseball out of the park for MSU last year.
"I'm not the same type of power hitting guy like some of those guys I'm not going out there to hit you 18 home runs," Collins said. "I'm just going to go out there and do the best I can and play the game the way I know how. It's a little bit different and more speed-oriented."
Collins said that's a trait the entire team will exhibit, especially with the new bats.
"We don't have the guys like Russ (Sneed) and Conner that will hit in double-digit home runs, but we do have guys who will hit the gaps," Collins said. "Pretty much all of our guys are gap hitters and we've got the speed to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples."
The Bulldogs hit the basepaths for the season-opener on Friday against Akron. The first pitch at Dudy Noble Field is set for 4 p.m.

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