Garrido likes this teamís commitment, work ethic
There always is something unique about an Augie Garrido press conference.
Actually, there always is something unique in every conversation with the Longhorns head baseball coach, who can keep his audience enthralled for hours, and may talk about "baseball" only for 10 minutes.
You see, for Garrido, who begins his 11th season as head man of the Longhorns, it is much more than the game.
"Baseball is a metaphor for life," says Garrido, who last month was inducted into the International Latino Hall of Fame in Laredo.
"Baseball is nothing more than another classroom in the educational process," he continued. "I want my players to be aware of what is most important to them. Is it their bat? Is it the ball? Is it their glove? It's none of those. It is their mind because that is what gives them the ability to use the bat, the ball, and the glove.
"I want to help them help themselves become what they want to be through the fundamentals of baseball. It's my job to help the players find balance in their lives."
Thus, was it really any surprise when Garrido opened the 2007 season preview press conference with comments from Dr. Randa Ryan, the senior associate athletics director for student services?
Garrido drove home the message that it all starts with academics.
"Augie and assistant coach Tommy Harmon have said to me that whatever I have written in a player's academic report is so similar to what is going on in the field," Ryan said.
She reported that the baseball team had its best semester ever in the fall, coming up just shy of a team 3.0 grade point average.
Thus, Garrido's comment that the fall showed his team was off to a good start.
Longhorns patrons will get their first look at the team in the partially-renovated UFCU Disch-Falk Field beginning with a date against Texas State on Feb. 20. That begins a stretch where the Horns will play only one game away from UFCU Disch-Falk Field through March 16.
The Longhorns, who have earned national rankings from fourth (Baseball America) to sixth (Rivals.com) to seventh (Collegiate Baseball), were 41-21 in 2006 and claimed the Big 12 regular-season title, missing a trip to the College World Series for the first time since 2001. The Horns won national titles in 2002 and 2005, with second- and third-place finishes, respectively, in 2004 and 2003.
Garrido welcomed back seven starters from last year's lineup, as well as six pitchers.
Yet what was apparent during his first extensive discussion of this year's club was that he welcomed back a team that through the fall had demonstrated the character and attitude that knows what it takes to succeed.
"Baseball is a game of adversity, and it is about growing from those adversities," said Garrido, one of only two coaches in NCAA Division I baseball history to record more than 1,500 victories.
"And growing from those adversities is what makes a team a National Champion," he said.
Among the returnees giving Garrido a good feeling are seniors Chance Wheeless (first base), Nick Peoples (center field) and Chais Fuller (shortstop) and sophomores Preston Clark (catcher), Bradley Suttle (third base), Kyle Russell (right field) and Jordan Danks (left field).
"Preston is behind the plate and is the lead in that position," Garrido said.
Harmon added, "Preston is a quality signal-caller who possesses an exceptional throwing arm and advanced offensive skills."
Garrido complimented Suttle on his move to the corner position from middle infield.
"Suttle has adapted really well," the Longhorns' head coach said. "Travis Tucker and Michael Demperio have a good battle going on at second base and Russell Moldenhauer is the DH. He's a left-hander and he's good."
Moldenhauer, an incoming freshman and a high school teammate of Suttle's, said he followed his heart in coming to Texas.
On the mound, Garrido and new assistant coach Skip Johnson, who handles the pitchers, have junior Adrian Alaniz, seniors Randy Boone and Joseph Krebs and sophomores Riley Boening, Austin Wood and Kyle Walker return.
"Adrian's mannerisms are always calm and collected and that's what makes him a good pitcher," said Johnson, who had spent 13 years as head baseball coach at Navarro College. "Riley has unbelievable stuff, Joseph has lots of poise, Randy and Austin are fierce competitors and Kyle has a major league breaking ball and electric stuff."