Arizona Baseball

Top 5 things said by Chip Hale in Arizona’s Media Day

Arizona’s legendary baseball player Chip Hale is about to embark on his coaching career with the Wildcats, beginning Feb. 18 with the State Farm College Baseball Showdown at Arlington, Texas.

The Wildcats will play against three Big 12 teams in the event, including Kansas State on Feb. 18 at Globe Life Stadium, which ironically is the same venue where Hale experienced his last game as a major-league coach with the Detroit Tigers against the Texas Rangers last summer.

Arizona will then play Oklahoma on Feb. 19 and Texas Tech on Feb. 20.

Hale met with the local media on Wednesday, including beat reporters Michael Lev of The Arizona Daily Star and AZ Desert Swarm’s Brian Pedersen, on Media Day.

The following are five of the top comments from Hale during the press conference:


Garen Caufield (Arizona Athletics photo)

On junior college transfer Garen Caufield moving from his customary shortstop position to second base because of veteran Nik McClaughry playing at shortstop: Caufield spent two years at San Joaqin (Calif.) Delta College but never played because both seasons were canceled because of COVID-19 protocol.

“Over the fall, Garen led the team in most hitting categories. That sort of led him to the top. He’s a very good shortstop, but we have a really good shortstop on the team in Nick McClaughry. Putting him over there is not an issue just the experience of playing second base, compared to shortstop, just different things you have to learn at second compared to short. But again, to secure the position, he’s going to have to keep playing like he has and then there’ll be guys that will be pushing him as we go.”


Daniel Susac (Arizona Athletics photo)

On the luxury in his first season as a head coach having sophomore catcher Daniel Susac, who is a NCBWA, D1 Baseball, Baseball America, Perfect Game and Collegiate Baseball First Team Preseason All-American.

“He makes it a lot easier, that’s for sure. It’s easy to put his name in the lineup every day. His attention to detail is major league-esque. Everything he does, if he had more time to study, if he wasn’t in classes, he probably might be able to call pitches here. … The problem is we get to look at video all day and decide how we’re going to pitch guys where they have to go to class and do a lot of other things. So he’s a special player.”


TJ Nichols (Arizona Athletics photo)

On potentially “piggybacking” (throwing no more than four or five innings of one starter in a game and using another starter before going to the relievers) sophomore right-hander TJ Nichols, senior left-hander Garrett Irvin and freshman right-hander Anthony Susac (cousin of Daniel Susac nicknamed “Taco”) early in the season in the rotation to get their arms ready.

“We’re gonna piggyback some guys in Texas just because they’re not built up enough to throw 100 pitches yet. … We’ll figure it out (a rotation) this weekend (in scrimmages).”


On former Loyola Marymount left-handed stopper Holden Christian coming to Arizona as a D1 Baseball Second Team Preseason All-American following four seasons with the Lions (5-3 with five saves and a 3.32 ERA across 53 appearances).

“We’d like him to pitch late, obviously. He was pretty much the closer at Loyola. He’s a preseason All-American because of it. We envision him pitching like that. Our relievers are getting the opportunity right now to pitch a couple times a week and they need to lock it in — again, throwing strikes … If he’s going to pitch Friday and Sunday, for example, or Saturday and Sunday, he could do that. We need to see if he can do it. He can’t throw 30 pitches in one inning.”


Chase Davis (Arlzona Athletics photo)

On Nichols, junior third baseman Tony Bullard and sophomore outfielder Chase Davis projecting high in terms of scouting evaluations beyond college.

“(Nichols), that’s a guy you project out to be a high-level professional player. The problem is at this level, we need him to compete on an everyday basis, which means throwing a lot of strikes, filling it up. We can’t have the Friday night (first game of a series) starter only go four innings with 100 pitches or five innings because although he’s getting outs it’s taking him a long time because he’s throwing a lot of pitches. …

“(Bullard), this is a guy, another one, projecting and scouting wise you look at … I look at him and I was amazed. With his long limbs as a third baseman, he’s a guy who could play at the highest level. His swing has been fine. He’ll hit. He hasn’t really done anything been bad or really good. He’s been sort of right down the middle. I expect a huge year out of him. …

“I think Chase is one of those guys that profiles out with tools, arm — fantastic throwing arm — and he can go get it in the outfield. Big-time power. He just has to put it together on a daily basis and we’re going to give him that opportunity. … I will say this about Chase, I’m very proud of him. If he has a bad day at the plate in one of our innersquad games or against outside competition, he’s been the same guy on defense where he has really been out there shutting it down for the other team. He’s not letting the offense go to his defense and that’s going to be important to him.”

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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