Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Q & A with Tim Corbin

After guiding his team to a 5-0 week, including a road sweep of Mississippi State, Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin chatted with The Sports VU and other local media outlets about a wide range of topics, including the toughness of second baseman Alex Feinberg, the stellar play of outfielder David Macias and the team's partnership with Nashville RBI.

Sports VU: Talk about Feinberg and how he's dealing with everything.
Tim Corbin: He deals with it as if nothing's wrong with him actually. He came to me the other day and said that he could play and once he got the doctor's OK to play, I said to him, "Well, I've got to make a decision on hitting you or hitting someone else," and he goes, "Well, you need to hit me." He makes it pretty apparent to me that he can play, and it doesn't seem like he's even thinking about that he's hurt.

SV: With his mouth shut, does it affect the team's communication at all?
TC: No, it's kind of welcoming to the ears that he's not talking anymore. I just like see his physical abilities and I'd rather not listen to him (Laughter).

SV: Satisfied with how the week went?
TC: Yeah, I'd have to say so. We went 5-0, we won two midweek games and I thought that was the start. I thought the pivotal part to the weekend was the fourth inning of Friday night's game. Down 7-3 and we come back and put it to them and keep on scoring. I didn't detect any alarm in the dugout at that time, and then Mikie (Minor) came out and in the fifth, sixth and seventh, put holes on the other team.

SV: Good to see the team win in three different fashions -- the comeback, the blowout and the nail-biter?
TC: That's a good point. It's tough enough winning a series on the road, let alone sweeping, I don't care who the opponent is. I told the team after the game yesterday, "If you sweep a series, you're doing things well," and I thought we had a pretty positive approach the entire week.

SV: Talk about your involvement with the RBI Program?
TC: I've known Reggie Whitemore for quite some time, but it was an opportunity opened from our marketing people more than anything else. It made me aware of it, and they asked me what I thought of it and if I'd be interested in making David (Price) aware of it and helping out, and it didn't really take too much thinking to get involved in something like that because it's for the city, it's for kids, and to get them involved in baseball and to get them over here. In this program now, where we've got some role models like a David Price or a Pedro Alavarez or a Alex Feinberg or Ryan Flaherty, they've got personalities that the kids can attach themselves to, and they're good players, so I thought this was as good a time as any.

SV: Talk about the importance of a program like this and the impact on the community.
TC: These are young people who are developing ideas and who have curiosity and interests. I don't know if baseball a lot times is one of those interests of a 12, 13-year-old intercity kid or anyone. When you open up an avenue where they can see it and experience and then think, "Boy, I can do what that kid is doing," and "I could put on a uniform," I might try to do everything I possibly can to do that. You've got Reggie, who's a former Minor Leaguer, Red Sox player, who spearheads this opportunity for the kids and you combine that with a school like Vanderbilt who happens to be playing well and has some good personalities, I think that's eye-opening for a young person.

SV: With players like Lebron James and Kobe Bryant being so popular among today's youth, how important do you think it is to make baseball seem "cool" again?
TC: You know, when I was at the Winter Meetings (in Nashville), that was the biggest concern -- the fact that minorities in baseball is becoming a minority. There's not as many kids coming out and that was the chief concern, and it starts at the grassroots level. It starts at the younger level where kids have an interest in wanting to play, and when you look at Lebron James and the guys they see on TV all the time, that's a basketball thing and obviously there's more interest to want to play that game.
What you have to do is develop leaders and impact people in a community like Nashville that have an influence on other kids. David Price is that guy. David Price has the ability to touch kids both from a physical ability and one-on-one, where he can spend time with kids and have an immediate presence. He's an energy-giver and he's a drawing card.
I think we have a couple of those kids on our team like that right now. Price needs to be involved because he came from a situation like that, albeit it was Murfreesboro, but still he was giving the opportunity to play and look what he's done with it. I think there's a lot of David Prices out there, or could be.

SV: How excited is David to have the opportunity to impact kids that were just like him growing up?
TC: He's all about something like this. He's all about little kids. After all, he still is, and I hope he always stays that way too. I told him that that's his biggest positive, that he treats things as if he's still playing a kids' game, and I hope he never loses that focus. They've got the right kid involved in a situation like this.

SV: Did you sense that for the first time all year, everything sort of came together?
TC: I think midweek, giving up two runs and not making an error in 18 innings, and this weekend, making two errors in 27 innings, and then putting some runs up, I thought that was important. I think there was a time where every facet of the game, we weren't very consistent, and I think this was as close to consistency as there has been on this season up until this point.
Getting back Pedro is a big key, getting Feinberg back on the field is a big key and I think the more we play together and the more we have a full unit out there, I think we're going to be come a better team; I really do. I think our best baseball is ahead of us.

SV: Talk a little about David Macias.
TC: I think Macias is the reason why kids come back and player their senior year of college baseball. They start to figure things out and they start to understand it, and that's exactly what he's doing. Macias and Feinberg, two seniors, are having great years. It just shows that when kids play four years, how much they pick up and how they start to learn the game, and they get comfortable playing after. I think those guys are going to end up playing more baseball. They both have risen in their stock in terms of what other people professionally think about them.

SV: Has Macias, a high school infielder, exceeded your expectations defensively?
TC: No, I wouldn't say that because he's a good athlete. A lot of people think that if Flaherty went down he could step in and be our shortstop. He's kind of a poor man's Ryan Freel. He can (play) any position on the field and excel at it. In center field, he's kind of a gymnast. He gets good step, he's good a very alert arm and can throw accurately. He plays center field as well as any one in this conference, bar none, and it's not the fact that he's just a flier out there. It's just because he's got good instincts, he gets good reads on the ball, he's alert and he can throw runners out.

SV: How good was his weekend, offensively, defensively, the whole package?
TC: Unbelievable. DJ (Derek Johnson) and I were remarking yesterday during BP how he was leaving his feet for every ball hit in BP and making diving catches, and I'm thinking to myself, "Here's a guy who's been in this league for four years and he's never slowed down one step whatsoever." He's still laying out during batting practice when no one's in the stands. It's just what he's used to doing, and he carries the same mentality to the game. He's hitting home runs, he's stealing bases, he's driving in important runs, he's making great catches. He made about five catches during the weekend that were going towards the fence. He made a catch that wasn't a catch and he sold it so it was a catch. He's doing everything.

SV: Among the candidates for Team MVP?
TC: Oh yeah. He's the energizer bunny. He's the same mood every day, same energy level every day. He's been the same for four years. You know how some kids come into your program and they want to work really hard and show you that (they're committed)? Well, he's never stopped from one. He's a very unusual kid in terms of his work ethic and his ability to stay at a high level all the time.

SV: Was this just a case of "what a difference a week makes"?
TC: Alabama and Ole Miss both turned their seasons around on us because both weren't going well until they played us, and I told the team on Thursday, "You know what the problem is. I think that other teams think more of us than we think of ourselves." We're playing like a pretender instead of a contender and we've got to get to the point where you feel like you're the contender and playing like the team you're capable of playing and I think we started to do that this weekend.


Tony Arnold said...

Great interview. I love this site. Don't know why it took me so long to find it. Keep up the great posts.

Jarred Amato said...

thanks for the kind words, tony, i appreciate it. i'm having a blast doing it.

Anonymous said...

Being a life-long Red Sox fan,when the announcers said David Price was from Vanderbilt, I thought of Tim Corbin, who I coached in Little League on the All Star team in Wolfeboro NH and how proud he must have been to have his player perform, as Wolfeboro NH is proud of Tim Corbin as the true gentleman he was and a gritty kid as a little leaguer. We think of Tim often.