FAYETTEVILLE - Less than a week from Opening Day at Baum Stadium, the Arkansas baseball team held its media day Saturday morning hours before one of the team’s final intra-squad scrimmages of the preseason.

FAYETTEVILLE - Less than a week from Opening Day at Baum Stadium, the Arkansas baseball team held its media day Saturday morning hours before one of the team’s final intra-squad scrimmages of the preseason.


Coach Dave Van Horn fielded questions across the board, from expected opening weekend rotation to freshmen who may make an impact. But much like last season at this time, there are several questions that remain unanswered and will until probably March. Or later.


Here are five important questions to which we found out the answer, at least, Saturday.


1. Where does Zach Jackson pitch?


Unquestionably the best player on the team, Jackson is a first-team All-SEC preseason selection and could very well be the No. 1 pick in the MLB Draft when he decides to leave Fayetteville.


In the meantime, he will start the season where he ended 2015: as closer. Van Horn and pitching coach Dave Jorn had a meeting with Jackson, who made it known his preference was to start, to ensure Jackson was fine with coming out of the bullpen. It was never going to be a problem. Jackson isn’t just the best player, he’s the leader.


"It was basically just them telling me straight up, which is what I wanted to hear, what I’ll been doing this year," Jackson said of the meeting. "It was just kind of, as I been expecting, I’m probably going to end up being a reliever opening weekend. It’s kind of what I saw coming."


The return of three players with starting experience and the development of one particular freshman has allowed Van Horn and Jorn to keep their best arm at the place he was so dominant last year. Jackson notched 89 strikeouts and 60 innings, mostly out of the bullpen. He started a couple games early in the year before Van Horn established Jackson was best in relief. And it was about that time Arkansas turned around its season and began the march that ended in Omaha, Nebraska.


"Coach Jorn and I felt like we needed to bring him in and talk to him about his role, because obviously he would like to start," Van Horn said. "He was great with it. We told him, right out of the chute, beginning of the season, we’d really like his experience coming out of the pen and being able to win some close games that way, the way we did not win them last year early. We blew a bunch of games last year, obviously. And we didn’t really know who to go to.


"It could change later on."


2. What does the outfield look like?


There are about seven bodies for three spots, plus a designated hitter. It’s less, though, a work-in-progress than a joy of depth and versatility.


If the season-opening set against Central Michigan was tomorrow instead of next weekend, from left field to right field would be Luke Bonfield, Clark Eagan and Chad Spanberger. The latter of two players can also, and likely will also, play other positions throughout the course of the season. Bonfield is the only staple in the outfield.


And he’s a necessary one. He has more hitting upside than anyone else on the roster. He’s an ideal three-, four- or five-hole hitter. More four and five. He carries some power, both home runs and doubles, and he has a good eye. But he’s also not a natural contact hitter, not especially fast and a mediocre defender. He has to hit to stay in the lineup. And him being in the lineup would be best for the Diamond Hogs.


"He is a presence in the box. He looks like the guy. He’s just got to get it done offensively," Van Horn said. "Luke, I think, worries about it too much. If he’ll just relax and take his reps, it’s a long season. We need him to step up and take that job. If not, wow, there’s three or four guys that can play out there."


Among them, in likeliest order: Eric Cole, Jack Benninghoff and Jake Arledge.


3. Are there enough bullpen arms?


Yes, apparently. But that answer is contingent on inexperienced faces taking over roles.


Jackson is a given on the back-end. Josh Alberius is the next most experienced full-time bullpen arm and while his stuff is lacking compared to a lot of his teammates, he is a solid bet for middle innings. The move of James Teague from mid-week starter and long reliever to first or second out of the bullpen will be the key.


Teague’s stuff is bested only by Jackson on the roster. He showed flashes when starting, but him playing in short-relief roles, one and two innings at a time, allows him to go full bore with his pitch arsenal instead of knowing he has to conserve energy and get more out of his arm for more innings.


"I have a good mix, but I have two pitches that are dominantly better than the rest," Teague said. "Personally I may have a little more confidence out of the bullpen and I think you can come in, give it all you got and pass it on to the next guy, especially when you have Zach Jackson back there."


Teague is currently resting his shoulder - it’s fatigued, Van Horn said, but not a problem - but is not hurt and will be ready by opening weekend.


Newcomer Doug Willey is third in the pecking order, while Cannon Chadwick and left-hander Weston Rogers are most likely to fill out the rest of the roles. Willey is a graduate transfer who came to Arkansas after playing in the Cape Cod League with Bonfield in the summer.


4. How does the rotation stack?


The three weekend spots are all but locked in. At least for now, which is different than it was last preseason.


Some combination of Keaton McKinney and Dominic Taccolini will be the Friday and Saturday twosome. Both were regulars in the rotation last year, but both fought injuries and sickness late in the season. They’re now healthy, McKinney with his hip and Taccolini after blood clots and a corresponding rib injury. Neither are strikeout specialists, but McKinney showed the look of a future No. 1 as a freshman last year when his hip wasn’t flaring.


There were games last season when it wasn’t bothering him and he’d throw a complete game. Then there were times, especially near the end of the season, when he could only go an inning or two. The hip would bother, his velocity would slow and teams would pelt him. All that is gone now.


"That’s 100 percent why my velocity wasn’t where I wanted it to be last year. I’m already way past it right now," McKinney said. "I couldn’t push off when I was throwing. I’m not going to use it as an excuse at all for the way I was performing. I went out there last year knowing my hip was hurt and I just wanted to compete for my team and help my team make it to Omaha."


Blaine Knight, a skinny right-handed freshman from Bryant, is pegged as the Sunday starter for now. Knight is 6-foot-3, 165 pounds, and projects, with weight added, to get his stuff up to the mid-to-low 90s. Now he sits high 80s, but with such good control Van Horn couldn’t keep him out.


"He’s a wiry kid that doesn’t seem intimidated," Van Horn said. "His first outing this spring, the first batter hit a home run on him and then he struck out the side. That showed me something right there."


Mid-week rotation spots are to-be-determined.


5. How many players (and who are they) will it take to replace Andrew Benintendi’s production?


The question with no answer, technically.


No one on the roster has Benintendi’s upside. It’s impossible to replace a national Player of the Year. What Arkansas does have, or at least Van Horn hopes, is more balance across the lineup. The losses of Benintendi, Tyler Spoon and Joe Serrano are significant, but experienced players like Eagan and Carson Shaddy help spread the skill of the lineup throughout the batting order.


Bonfield is the most likely to be a star. Eagan is the steadiest. Spanberger and first baseman Cullen Gassaway should help relieve some of the power loss. And second baseman Rick Nomura and shortstop Michael Bernal are both experienced seniors and solid, if unspectacular, bats.


"We just have to have more of a collective effort from different guys. It’s got to be four or five guys having a little better year, driving in an extra 10 runs to make up for losing a guy like Andrew." Van Horn said. "What I’ve told our team is we need to be more balanced 1 through 9. A lot of teams you see them load it up 1 through 6 then 7, 8, 9 is just OK. We might put some guys down in the order a little bit that might not like hitting there, but it might be best for the full game, having more of a balanced lineup."


Follow Eric on Twitter: @ericwbolin