Bill Kinneberg and the US Baseball Team continue the summer tour this week.
July 30, 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: You said you were going to change the lineup around as the team prepares for the World Port Tournament. Have you found one you like as enter the home stretch?
A:We have changed it around a bit with players at different positions and in a different batting order. So right now, we're getting a lot of people some much-needed at-bats. All of the position players are seeing more time. We're trying to keep the pitching staff healthy but everyone is seeing a lot time on the field and at the plate and we think it's good for the team.
Q:The team is 20-8 with about two weeks left of the tour. Is this where you expected the team to be?
A: We're a little behind where we hoped we'd be at this point. There are three series that we identified as key going into the tour. Those were the Japan series (Japan won 3-2), the Pan American Games (USA took silver) and the up-coming World Port Tournament. We were disappointed with the Japan series and then we look back at the Pan Am games and we feel that it was a great accomplishment for our guys. We played a lot of tough teams in tough conditions and we came away with the silver medal. There's no shame in silver. Now, we want to finish strong, have a solid showing in the World Port Tournament and get the chance to face and defeat Cuba in the championship.
Q: Your pitching staff has a sparkling 1.76 earned-run average and it nearly has a 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Did you expect the staff to be so dominating?
A: The players we had coming in on this team are the best players around that were not eligible for the pro draft. So we expected good things from all of our players. Unfortunately, with the schedule and its demand, we lost some guys who got tired arms (Jacob Thompson, Brian Matusz and Lance Lynn). We picked up some other good pitchers in Eric Surkamp and Cody Satterwhite, and they brought fresh arms and gave us a different look on the mound. We are definitely excited about our pitching staff and we expect it to keep pitching at this level for the rest of the tour.
Q: You're about to open the World Port Tournament against Japan, the same team that won a five-game series earlier this summer. What are you working on as you prepare for the rematch?
A: We are trying to survive right now. This has been the toughest week on the team, physically. We played nine games in as many days, traveled everyday and it has been very taxing on the both the players and the pitching staff. We need to make sure that we stay healthy for the World Port Tournament. These players have to be troopers to get the job done because after this stretch of games, we have a long travel day to the Netherlands and we start play the very next day. We're all going to be tired when this all over, that's for sure. < p>
Note: The USA National team (20-8 overall) plays Russia tonight in Durham, N.C., before taking off for the final tournament of the summer. The Red, White and Blue, conclude the tour at the World Port Tournament (Aug 2-12) in the Netherlands where it will play Japan, the Netherlands, Taiwan and Cuba in a double round-robin tournament. The top two teams in each pool will play in the finals on Aug. 12.