Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Q & A with Tim Corbin

Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin chatted with the local media Monday afternoon about a number of topics, including why he loves coaching this year's team and Alex Feinberg's toughness.

Sports VU: After a weekend like you guys just had, do you just try to forget about it and move on?
Tim Corbin: We just go forward. That’s all you can do. I told the kids, ‘We didn’t go through this last year.’ Maybe we should have. Maybe it would’ve helped us. Now we’re going through some tougher times that I think if we can withstand them, will make us a much better ball club. It’s very easy to get down because I think the perception is we’re supposed to be a good team. When things don’t come out the way they’re supposed to, then you start to think, ‘Do I have to do more? Do I have to work harder?' Well, yeah, you always have to work, but we’ll just positively get through this, somehow some way.

SV: Mike Minor mentioned that confidence may be an issue for some of the younger pitchers. Would you agree?
TC: It’s their first time on the road. Not knowing what’s going to happen and not knowing the atmosphere, they get a little bit shell-shocked at first and they get out of their comfort zone and when they get out of their comfort zone, they’re not experienced enough to get through it. There’s probably some panic, but in the end, these are good times. In a weird way, it’s fun to coach a team like this because it isn’t as easy maybe as we thought it was last year.

SV: It obviously must be great to have Pedro back in the lineup.
TC: Over the course of time it’ll give our team a lot of confidence, but then you turn around and lose your spark plug and your fighter (in Alex Feinberg) so you take one step forward and two back.

SV: Going back to last year, it seemed like the guys had so much pressure on themselves to succeed by the end. In a way, are things easier this year because they’re kind of flying under the radar?
TC: The pressure kept mounting last year because you kept winning and every time you kept winning, the expectation level is well, these guys are good, they can’t lose…What happened to Oregon State last year is they were the returning national champions but they just barely got into the tournament and they almost become the underdog.
Now, I’m not scripting out that’s how it’s going to happen for us. You can’t just snap your fingers and say well they did it, so it’s going to happen to us, but I just think part of that is the fact is that is does take the pressure off the kids a little bit. OK, we’re not at the top anymore so let’s just fight our way through it and in the end we’ll be the team that we want to be.

SV: Has the main problem thus far been the pitching?
TC: It’s a little bit of everything, really. Sometimes we pitch, we don’t hit. Sometimes we hit, we don’t pitch. Sometimes we hit and pitch, but don’t play defense and make some bizarre running mistakes.

SV: How important are these two mid-week games for you guys, to get your confidence and focus back?
TC: They mean a lot. They mean a lot in terms of confidence and wins, they mean a lot as far as RPI, they mean a lot as far as guys getting swings back, it means a lot for pitchers to get into some sort of groove, good weather, rhythm, Pedro more swings. These are huge. Sometimes you wish had more days to practice, but we don’t any more with the new rules, so we’re going in the process just by playing games.

SV: What are your thoughts on the later starting time for the season?
TC: It was put in for the Northern schools, but I don’t think they like it, but there’s nothing we can do now. We made the bed and now we have to sleep in it. It definitely is a little different because you don’t have time to work on areas that you might want to work on. You’re pressed right into playing.

SV: Playing Mississippi State this weekend, thoughts on their coach Ron Polk, who is resigning at the end of the year due to frustrations with the NCAA?
TC: He’s just been fighting a hard battle for such a long time with the NCAA. He’s been a big proponent of battling for kids and his heart’s in the right place and I like him a lot. I just think he got to a point where he’s older and really doesn’t care what he says anymore. He’s fought it for so long that he’s just irritated and said, ‘Forget it; I’m going to say what’s on my mind.’

SV: Thoughts on Alex Feinberg’s character?
TC: He’s your grinder, he’s your Phil Garner, he’s your guy who’s just a battler and doesn’t take no for an answer. It’s a loss because there’s a confidence level that he plays with that kind of goes to our team…The kid wants to play right now, but he’s not going to play for two weeks.

SV: What happened on the play?
TC: It was a 91-mph fastball. Took it in the chin. Sprints down to first base. He’s a tough kid. He never went down on the ground and his face was all over the place. You could see all the way through to his teeth and he goes, ‘I’m not coming out of the baseball game. Find a way to stop the bleeding and I’m playing.’"

1 comment:

David Rutz said...

Great interview, coach Corbin seems like a really level-headed guy who doesn't expect miracles from his team. I think that's important when he has so many young players who might get flustered if Corbin got angry during some of the rough patches they've had this season.

And wow, Alex Feinberg has got guts. I mean, taking a fastball to your face and wanting to keep playing? Incredible.