Utah head coach Bill Kinneberg began traveling with the USA National Baseball team, serving as its assistant coach.
June 22, 2007
University of Utah baseball head coach Bill Kinneberg has begun traveling with the USA National Baseball team, serving on its coaching staff as the assistant coach. Below will be the first of a summer-long Q&A installment with coach Kinneberg.
Q: What was the process of narrowing the roster down like?
A:We started the process of selecting our roster back in January with a series of conference calls. There were 75 to 80 kids that we had in mind and we watched their progress and monitored their stats throughout the collegiate baseball season. It's actually quite a process to get the roster down to 30 kids and we still have to trim it down to 22 by Monday.
Q: How does the team look after the first week together?
A:We have a good group of players, especially when you look at our pitchers and our offense. We're still trying to piece together some positions, the outfield is still a work-in-progress, but our first go-around with our pitching staff has been impressive. We have allowed only one earned run in three games thus far. Then, add our power and our speed, and we have a great lineup.
Q: With six "veterans" on the team, how do you get such a young team ready for the competition in such a short span of time?
A:We have been on the field for eight hours a day for the last three days. It's a pretty demanding schedule right now. We'll travel, practice for three hours and then play a nine-inning ballgame, and this is the fourth day of that routine. It will slow down a bit. Next week we'll practice only three days and that's when we'll be able to install our defense and fine-tune the other aspects of our game.
Q: You are playing against teams in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. What do you hope to accomplish in the first weekend of play?
A: Our first goal is to just to get to know the guys. Heck, we're still learning everyone's first names! But, right now, we're putting guys in different areas and trying to figure out what everyone's role on the team will be ... be it starters to relievers to closers. We want to see what each player can do for us and what different kinds of looks they can give us in the field and at the plate.
Q: You are the National Team pitching coach. What are the strengths of the team's pitching staff?
A: We've got great arms. We currently have an unbelievable strikeout-to-walk ratio (35-to-5) so this team boasts some arms with some good stuff. We are dominating the New England Collegiate Baseball League right now, so it will be interesting to see what happens when we start international competition and the level of play improves.
Note: The USA National team will finish playing teams from the New England Collegiate Baseball League this weekend. On the schedule next is Chinese Taipei from June 29-July 3 in North Carolina. Check back early next week for Kinneberg's take on the team's first venture against international competition.
Live stats of the games are available by clicking here.