Monday, June 16, 2008

Q & A with Curt Casali

In Cape Cod Baseball League action, the Hyannis Mets beat Falmouth 1-0 Monday night in a classic pitchers' duel to improve to 2-0. Vanderbilt reliever Russell Brewer shut down the door in the ninth to pick up his second save, and his battery mate was fellow Commodore Curt Casali.

After the game, Casali took some time to answer a number of questions from The Sports VU about a number of topics, including his early impressions of the league and Jason Esposito's decision to come to Vanderbilt, in addition to signing autographs and helping his teammates with some groundskeeping.

Sports VU: How exciting was it to make your Cape Cod Baseball League debut?
Curt Casali: It was a rush being out there again, just like my first college game. I definitely think I was more nervous for my first college game than I was for here, but there were some butterflies. By the first inning, (Andrew) Carraway (of Virginia) was throwing great and I had to do was stick up the glove.

SV: It must be a blast to play in such low-scoring, high-quality baseball games.
CC: It's a lot of fun and the wooden bats being used add another element that college baseball players just don't even realize when you're playing with metal all the time. It's definitely a pitchers' game. 4-3 our first game and 1-0 today. You go into the ninth with a 1-0 lead, you're feeling good about yourselvesf you're playing with metal, you're like, "We really need to get some extra runs to help us out here."

SV: I'm sure you're really confident in the ninth when Russell Brewer enters the game.
CC: Russ has definitely got his thing going on in the ninth inning. I know Coach Robinson loves him as a closer already and I feel fortunate enough to be in the ninth to catch him. It's a lot of fun.

SV: Talk about how gratifying it is to be playing such a prestigious league.
CC: I've been waiting for this my whole life. It's always been a life-long dream to play in the Cape League. It's close to home and hopefully a couple of my buddies will come up here eventually. So far so good. My host family is awesome. They've treated me like their own son and I couldn't be happier.

SV: What was Carraway doing well tonight?
CC: He was just painting the black. Maybe the umpire was giving him a few inches at the end, but he definitely earned everything he got.

SV: Is this your first time using wood?
CC: No, I've used it before since high school baseball players usually use wood in the summer now, but it's been a long year of using metal so I'm still trying to get back in the swing of things, although I did hit a couple hard tonight. It will come around as it will for anyone else who may be struggling in this league. I'm a firm believer in that.

SV: What is Coach Robinson like?
CC: He's intense, almost as intense as Coach Corbin, but he's a good guy. He's calling a good game behind the plate. After going to college at Vanderbilt with Coach Corbin, you get used to an intense style of play and a fast style of play, and that's exactly what he preaches. Hustling on and off the field and a quick pace of the game.

SV: Will it take you a while to establish a rapport with the pitchers?
CC: It took me a whole fall to get a hold of our pitching staff (at Vandy), but these guys are the cream of the crop and if they're up here, they're up here for a reason. They know what they're doing and I'm trusting their stuff and I'll do whatever it takes to react to it and catch it and help them succeed.

SV: From fall ball to winter workouts to a grueling four-month season and now to this, it's been a long year, but I imagine that you guys aren't complaining about this opportunity.
CC: You can't complain about it. Ask anybody in this league and they'll say it's been their lifelong dream to come up here. Yeah, it would be a nice to have a regular summer vacation like most students, but I'm not compaining whatsoever. This is so much fun.

SV: So Jason Esposito is finally coming.
CC: Thank god. I can't tell you how many times I've talked to him, tried to convince him Vanderbilt was the best place to come. He won't be disappointed. I can guarantee you that.

SV: Already excited about next year?
CC: It was fun being a freshman for a little bit, but then it took its tolls. It will be good to be one of the older guys and establish a leadership roll.

SV: How difficult will it be to replace Shea Robin?
CC: I have some big shoes to fill because I've never seen anybody block as well as Shea has, handle the pitching staff as well as he has and you can ask Coach Corbin about that. I'm a little nervous to take on the responsibility of taking care of the staff, but at the same time I'm really excited.

SV: How will playing in this league help prepare for next season?
CC: Any time you're using a wooden bat, it really strengthens your wrists and your hands and your swing as a whole. You can cheat sometimes with a metal bat and get away with some dinky hits. But if you get jammed here, you break a bat and it hurts too. Playing with the best players across the country, how can you not get better?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice interview Jarred. Curt is succeeding Flash as my favorite non-deified Dore (Sonny winning out in the semi-immortal category).

For those that don't know, Curt and Espo played on the same summer team in the past, though I don't know if Greenwich and Amity were in the same HS league.