Jan. 21, 2013
The University of Michigan baseball program welcomes a whole new coaching staff for the 2013 season. The staff has been together for around seven months and will coach its first game on Friday, Feb. 15, at California. To countdown Opening Day, we will introduce and get to know the new staff of Team 147!
First up is pitching coach Sean Kenny. Kenny is no stranger to the area, having grown up in Ann Arbor, attending Pioneer High School and Eastern Michigan University, where he was a two-time All-MAC pitcher. Kenny went on to play three seasons of pro baseball with the New York Mets before beginning his coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Saint Mary's College in 1997. Kenny served as the pitching coach in his first full-time coaching job at Laney Community College in Oakland, Calif., before becoming the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at San Diego from 1999-2003. He spent six seasons in the same capacity at Pepperdine before joining Erik Bakich for three seasons at Maryland as the Terrapins' pitching coach.
Q: You grew up in Ann Arbor. How exciting is it to be back working in your hometown?
A: It might seem cliché, but it is a dream come true, a dream job, all that applies. It is awesome. I feel lucky and fortunate every day. All the words to describe being the luckiest guy in the world and I am also extremely excited about the opportunity to win and win championships. For me, it is the best of both worlds. The job itself is awesome, the nuts and bolts of it, and also being at home. I don't know anyone in the profession who is as lucky as me.
Q: What has changed about the area and the school since you lived here last?
A: I think I have been gone 16 years and I always try to come back. I always get back once a year I would sneak into town and catch a football game, The Big Chill or something. The good thing about Ann Arbor is it changes but it is subtle. It keeps the things that make it a great town, a great college town and a great place to raise a family. There have been changes but not big changes and I think that is a good thing.
Q: What changes did see from the pitcher's from the first day of fall ball until the end of fall practice?
A: I think the biggest thing is that coach Bakich does an unbelievable job in creating a culture of how to work every day and the expectations. Specifically, I see the way the pitchers go about their business in practice every day. They are more prepared before practice starts. They are more ready to go in terms of how they play catch. I think the most noticeable change is how they practice every day and how much more focused they have become. As a staff we are most happy about how they work each day.
Q: You worked with coach Bakich for three years at Maryland. What makes him the right fit for Michigan and a great coach?
A: The first thing that I appreciate is he is just a good person, a good guy. Being the old man on the staff now, I also appreciate the energy and the work ethic that never stops. It is not a Monday through Friday, ring the bell approach. It is nonstop, constant, and positive, so his approach is really refreshing to be around. Coach Bakich is really smart and very easy to follow as an assistant. You know you can trust him and the direction he is taking not only the staff but also the team. I appreciate coach Bakich's constant, positive energy.
Q: What have you look for on your pitching staffs, whether it was at USD, Pepperdine, Maryland or here?
A: The thing that we always talk about as a staff is that we have to be able to throw the ball over the plate. The percentages of the game are structured in our favor if we pitch this way. We are going to recruit like crazy to surround our pitchers with guys that can play defense. We are going to throw it over the plate and play the percentages on defense. The other thing is we want to work quickly. A priority for us is to handle the running game is a priority to control the short game. We can control the running game, we can control our tempo, we can control picking up the ball and throwing where we are supposed to. Those are the constants that we are striving for. On a smaller note, we want to be ready for practice every single day and making sure we are getting one percent better every day. It's a blue collar approach, a simple approach, getting one percent better every single day. That's the approach we take and so far it's been good.
Q: What do you think of the commitment the University has put into the Michigan baseball program?
A: I have never seen anything like it. We talk about it every day. There isn't a day that goes by that we don't just shake our heads and laugh at how impressed we are with the commitment of the athletic department, whether it's the resources or the overall support. The support staff is unmatched and it is not even close to any place that the other coaches or I have coached. We are extremely fortunate and that is why we are extremely excited. We know that we have been provided with everything that we could possibly ask for to create a championship culture.
Q: How excited are you to start the season?
A: We wish we started tomorrow for a lot of reasons. We want to see our guys, we want to evaluate our guys and see how they react. For me personally, I am just looking forward to putting the uniform on and not be the one I bought from M-Den growing up. That is what I am most fired up about, to be in the dugout with the guys and yell, 'Go Blue' and run on the field. I look forward to it.