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Michigan baseball prepared for 2023 campaign despite off-season changes

There’s a lot of new faces in the clubhouse, but the Wolverines are ready for the 2023 season.



© Matt Stone/Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Last season Michigan baseball won the Big Ten championship with an experienced group of players. The team was led by ninth year head coach Erik Bakich. Despite the Big Ten championship success, the team was in a tough spot this off-season. Four of the Wolverines starting position players were leaving and coach Bakich left the program to take the head coaching job at Clemson

Despite all the changes, Michigan baseball hasn’t skipped a beat in their preparation. The players, new and returning, have tuned out the noise and worked hard in preparation for a new season.

This Thursday, Michigan baseball hosted an open practice just one week before their season opener in Mesa, AZ. With plenty of new players and an all new coaching staff lead by head coach Tracy Smith, a new era of Michigan baseball is about to begin.

Here’s what the players had to say about the upcoming season.

Ted Burton –  IF

I asked senior infielder Ted Burton how this off-season has differed from the past with an all new coaching regime. “Once we found out Tracy [Smith] was hired, it was a quick mindset change.” Burton mentioned the culture shift a locker room experiences when such a big change happens, but made it clear the old culture they’ve grown is here to stay as well. “We have a culture here and he brought in his culture and it’s kind of merged into both. It’s worked out great.”

Over the past three seasons Burton has played in 108 games for the Wolverines. Burton has hit 18 home runs and driven in 89 RBI’s in his career at Michigan. He primarily played third base last season and is expected to start there for the Wolverines once again.

Burton had a strong final message about this year’s mentality, stating “I think we’re in the best shape all of us have ever been in. We have a lot of people to prove wrong… heading into the season that’s our mindset.”

Tito Flores – OF

Returning for his senior season is outfielder Tito Flores. Just like Burton, Flores has been with the team for three years and plays a major role in bridging the gap between the old and new team culture. Flores said about the new staff, “From the coaching aspect they’ve been super adjustable with what was run before within the culture”.

A new coaching regime allows a team to reflect on the existing locker room culture. Flores explained how the players and coaches discussed over the offseason “What can we improve on going into the year, what was in place that was really good, what was not so good, and how can we change and benefit at the end of the day”.

When asked about how the team as a whole is responding to the changes, Flores said “What we see from everyone on the team is not a lot of pushback. [It’s been] ‘what can we do to get you guys better’ and everyone’s loved that. Everyone’s been loving the coaching staff, I have nothing but great words to say about these guys.”

Gabe Sotres – C

Sotres started his collegiate career at Michigan State before entering the transfer portal to join the maize and blue. After missing all of last season with a preseason injury, Sotres has junior eligibility status entering his first season for the Wolverines.

Sotres grew up in Michigan and played on the same team at Brother Rice high school as teammate Tito Flores. When asked what made him choose Michigan as his transfer destination, Sotres replied, “What’s not to like about Michigan?” He added, “It’s close to home, great academics, and one of the winningest programs. When you come here you expect to win.”

Sotres touched on the clubhouse atmosphere as well saying, “Being around a great group of guys, great teammates, I love coming here everyday.” He added “Everyone here just thrives on working hard and coming to work every day.”

Sotres will get a chance to play his former team in Michigan’s season opener. The Wolverines will have a double header against Fresno St. and Michigan St. to kick off the MLB Desert Invitational this Friday 2/18. Games will start at 1 PM EST and 6 PM EST respectively.

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Augie Pasche is the associate editor for Blue by Ninety. He covers Michigan football, basketball, wrestling and baseball.