Utah's Bill Kinneberg, on the USA Baseball coaching staff, talks about facing Chinese Taipei this weekend.
June 28, 2007
University of Utah baseball head coach Bill Kinneberg is traveling with the USA National Baseball team, serving on its coaching staff as the assistant coach. UtahUtes.com continues its summer-long Q&A with coach Kinneberg, documenting his experiences with and against the elite ball players of the world.
Q: In our first Q&A, you said that you were going to spend time this week installing your system. How is that going?
A: It is going well. Baseball is just naturally one of those sports where you never feel like you have enough time to put everything in. We spent time trying to get it all in this week but we were careful not to confuse our players. It's hard to put in specialty defenses because of the time we have and because of the timing and discipline it takes to run them. But, this has been an interesting process, getting the team ready to play in three short days.
Q: You're heading into your first international competition this weekend. What will be some of the differences between this week's competition and the American style of baseball your players are used to?
A: We'll get to see the Chinese Taipei team tonight because they're playing a Coastal League team. But, we're expecting to see a different style of play. With Taiwan and Japan, you tend to see less power and better execution. Especially with Japan, you'll see a team that is good at throwing, fielding and hitting, just an all-around fundamentally solid team. These next two series, we'll see teams that are skilled at every position.
Power isn't as much of an issue with Taiwan and Japan. We won't see these teams with a dominant No. 3 or 4 hitter. In stead, we'll see teams that play the short game very well and are very efficient.
Q: What are you looking for your pitching staff to accomplish this weekend?
A: Naturally, we're in this to win every game. That's our ultimate goal. But, with this first series, it is important to get all of our pitchers some innings and to get them ready for our series with Japan. We want to get them in to situations where we can define their roles. We're going to stretch the starters a little but, get our pitchers into late-game situations, and then bring in our closers.
Q: What kind of adjustments will your pitching staff have to make against its competition this weekend?
A: We're not here to coach this team, per se. We're here to manage these players. Our job is to put our athletes in their positions and to get our workouts in. We're not going to change anyone's routines. Our goal is to put each player into a spot where they can be the most successful.
Q: After a fast-and-furious first week of play, you've settled into the "home" of USA Baseball in Cary, North Carolina. How does it feel to finally be able to set up camp and establish a routine?
A: One thing that's been nice is that we're in the same hotel for the next 13 days. It's a relief for the players and the coaches that we're not moving around as much anymore. Last week was tough for everyone involved. We'd eat breakfast, board the bus, play baseball and then check into a new hotel. Then it would start all over again the next day.
We're relieved to be in one hotel now. And, now that the process of selecting our roster is over, we expecting to see better energy from everyone. We're ready to get on the field and get to work.
Note: The USA National team will play Chinese Taipei in North Carolina this Friday through Tuesday. The following week pits the Red, White and Blue against Japan. Japan has never won a series against Team USA on American soil. Check back early next week for Kinneberg's take how on the team fared against Chinese Taipei. His thoughts on Japan will be posted later next week.