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Follow Friday Q&A with TJ Nichols

Aug 27, 2020

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This is the sixth installment of the Arizona Baseball 2020 Follow Friday series, in which we highlight each member of the incoming 2020 class of student-athletes looking to make their mark at Hi Corbett Field. Get to know our newest Wildcats with the below Q&A, and when you're done be sure to follow them on social media to stay connected.

This week's feature focuses on incoming freshman TJ Nichols, a RHP/INF from Oakmont High School in Roseville, California. 

Previous editions of Follow Friday: Jacob Berry  |  Kyle Casper  |  Chase Davis  |  Riley Cooper  |  Daniel Susac

Q: What made you choose Arizona?
A: It was a combination of a lot of things, everything just meshed together really well. For the academic piece, I really wanted to study criminal justice and there are only three schools in the Pac-12 that offer that so Arizona being able to offer that was a big piece for me. Obviously the baseball program is also top-notch — coach Johnson is one of the best head coaches in the nation, the best in my opinion, and also I've known coach Yeskie since he was at Oregon State so we're good friends and he's the best pitching coach in the country. All those pieces really came together well.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most in your first year at Arizona?
A: Just getting going again with baseball because our senior season of high school was canceled. So getting to know the guys, lifting with everyone, and creating new friendships with my teammates are all welcomed right now.

Q: What achievement from your baseball career so far are you most proud of?
A: I would have to say my junior year, when my high school team won the Division II section championship. That was awesome because we worked really hard for that and we definitely earned it.

Q: What do you think is the strongest part of your game?
A: Probably my mental approach to the game. I bring confidence and know I can beat anyone; I say to myself that it doesn't matter who's in the box, I'm still going to play my game pitch-by-pitch. It's something I've always had on my side, I have always had that competitive edge that a lot of kids don't have.

Q: Who influenced you to get into baseball?
A: My dad and my brother. My dad introduced me to baseball and then my brother, who plays baseball at Sacramento City College right now, has competed with me all our lives. Competing with each other and pushing each other to be better whether it be on the baseball field or with classwork. 

Q: If you weren't playing baseball, what sport would you most want to play?
A: Basketball, just because I played it in middle school and I really enjoyed it. Also, my height would help me out too. So basketball would be fun, but baseball is for sure my number one. 

Q: If you could have one MLB player's skill/pitch, what would it be?
A: For position players, I like how Javy Báez plays the game. He plays hard, he's a flashy player, always going hard out of the box, so I would love to take his approach to the game. As a pitcher, I would have a Clayton Kershaw curveball — I think that, combined with his heater, is untouchable.

Q: If you could face one Major League Baseball player right now, who would it be and why?
A: I would face Gerrit Cole, just because he's known as being one of the best. I think his mechanics on the mound are completely sound and I try to replicate my game after him, so I'd like to face him and see how he approaches hitters.

Q: What are some of your non-baseball hobbies you enjoy spending free time on?
A: I love hanging out with my family, that's number one. Also hanging out with my friends — I like to go bowling with my friends and sometimes golfing. I also like weightlifting, even though it might not look like it. 

Q: What does your pregame/gameday routine look like?
A: I'm big into the Driveline stuff, so I pick and choose some exercises that I like. Usually I'll start off with a little jog to get the blood flowing and then some static stretching followed by running stretches. After that I'll start working with the bands and doing my plyo balls, wrist weights, shoulder tube and then some long toss. I'll wrap it up with some bullpen work to get ready for the game. I like to do all that even when I'm just playing in the field, but especially if I'm pitching I need to get all that done. It takes me about 45 minutes or so to get through it all, but I think it really sets me up well for games and also for my endurance.
Quick Hits:
Favorite baseball player: Jacob deGrom
Favorite MLB team: Chicago Cubs
Favorite baseball movie: The Sandlot
Favorite gameday snack: Chipotle (bowl with double rice, black beans, half chicken half steak, corn, and cheese with a tortilla on the side)
Favorite TV show: The Office
Favorite movie: American Sniper