Heisman winner Winston begins baseball season
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston wants to help Florida State win another national championship – in baseball.
”I just want to have an effect on this team like I did the football team,” Winston said Friday before his practice of the 2014 season with Florida State’s baseball team. ”I just want to be a team player and get this show going.”
If the show is as successful on the baseball diamond as it was on the gridiron, the Seminoles will be hoisting the championship trophy at the College World Series in Omaha.
And that’s a possibility. The Seminoles have the talent to be title contenders.
Florida State was picked to win the ACC Atlantic Division by the league’s coaches and the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Winston is the favorite to win the closer role.
”Having Jameis win a national championship in baseball, I think that’s going to bring a lot to our team,” outfielder DJ Stewart said. ”He’s won a championship, so he’s going to bring that to us.
”That definitely motivates us. We see our football team do it, we’re like, `Why can’t we do it?”"
Winston has some work to do before he’s in baseball shape, though he has a fastball that reaches 95 mph and an effective slider. Coach Mike Martin called Winston a ”very dominating pitcher” by the end of the 2013 season, but he wants a change-up added to the repertoire.
”You’ve got to keep the hitters guessing,” Martin said. ”If you’re a two-pitch guy, you’re obviously looking for one or the other. Fifty-fifty, I don’t like.”
And being the Heisman winner won’t force the coaching staff to be cautious with Winston’s playing time.
”We will use Jameis just like we do everybody else,” Martin said. ”We’re not going to treat him any differently and he doesn’t want to be treated any differently. He’s a Seminole baseball player now. We’re going to use him outfield, we’re going to use him on the mound, we’re going to use him as a DH some.
”But we want him to be our closer when it’s all said and done. That’s what we’re going to prepare him to be.”
Winston said he takes the same mentality to the closing role as he does to the quarterback position. He admitted , however, that baseball brings a unique set of challenges.
”That’s why I like playing both, because I can take my football mentality and put it with baseball,” Winston said. ”You can be successful that way, especially when you’re as confident as I am.
”It’s different. But I’ve still got the same mentality. Baseball is a hard sport. It’s a failing sport. It’s far more stressful in the batter’s box than on the mound because I actually have control of everything on the mound. Pitching is probably easier to me mentally than hitting.”
Winston posted a 3.00 ERA in 2013 with a 1-2 record, two saves, 21 strikeouts and 12 walks in 27 innings pitched as a reliever. He hit .235 with seven doubles and three triples in 41 games.
The plate is where he really wants to improve.
”I’ve got to get back into the swing of things,” Winston said. ”I used to be a hitter in high school. Now I’ve got to get back in the groove of things.
”That’s the one thing I don’t like about baseball. In football I can make my adjustments fast. It’s more of like a strategize sport. Baseball, if you mess up out there, everyone’s looking at you. You can’t hide it. I’ve got to get better at hitting.”