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Nine Innings with Tim Esmay
By Phil Stanton
Esmay begins his 10th season as a coach for Arizona State, but
his first as head coach. He took over in early December as
interim head coach after the resignation of Pat Murphy.
A former infielder for the Sun Devils, Esmay has
spent the past five seasons as an assistant coach for ASU,
including the past three as Assistant Head Coach. He has helped
the Sun Devils win the past three Pac-10 titles. ASU was 51-14 a
season ago, reaching the College World Series for the second
time in three years and the 21st time in program history..
Esmay was head coach at
Utah from 1997 to 2004, winning the WAC title and WAC Coach of
the Year in 1997.
Esmay recently took time to
answer our questions.
First Inning – How has the transition been for
you from assistant head coach to head coach?
The transition has been relatively smooth. Having
been in the program the last five years and being the head coach
at Utah for eight years was a big help in preparing me for this
Second Inning – How important has your staff
been in that transition?
Travis Jewett and Ken Knutson have been great. It
has really helped that they were in the program in the fall.
They both have been a tremendous help with the
transition. Bringing Mike Benjamin into the program with all his
baseball knowledge finished out a great staff.
Third Inning – How have the players handled
the change in head coach?
Having already coached or recruited these kids
added an instant familiarity with them. This team has strong
leadership in the clubhouse. They are very focused on getting
the experience that goes with being a Sun Devil.
Fourth Inning – What was the top thing you
learned as head coach at Utah to help you now at ASU?
Patience!! Being a 30-year-old coach at Utah, I
really got caught up in the wins and losses and lost focus on
the process. The process is the most important, wins and losses
are the by product.
Fifth Inning – How important is it to have a
veteran like Josh Spence to anchor the pitching staff?
Josh Spence is a not only a special player but a
special person. The way he goes about conducting himself on and
off the field on a dailybases is contagious to the rest of the
Sixth Inning – How valuable is it to the
offense to have two seniors back in Raoul Torrez and Kole
I put Raoul and Cole in the same category as
Spence. They have set the bar to how a player should conduct
himself in our program. Everyone feeds off of them.
Seventh Inning – Which newcomers do you expect
to make immediate impacts?
I look for Austin Barnes to make huge
impact. Even though he was with us last year, he was learning to
catch and didn't play very much. He has embraced catching and
has had a great spring so far. Freshman shortstop Deven Marrero
has been pushing Drew Maggi this spring and has a tremendous
future. Junior RHP Merrill Kelly will make an immediate impact
on the mound.
Eighth Inning – What has been the biggest key
in winning three straight Pac-10 titles?
The major reason is that we have had very good
baseball players. They have done a great job of showing up to
the yard every day with a purpose. They love to play the game.
Ninth Inning – Would you like to see the
Pac-10 add a conference tournament?
I think it is a good thing. It would give us more
games and put our kids in a playoff atmosphere right before
post-season. Because of the strength of our conference it would
allow more of our teams a chance to get into postseason.
(photo courtesy of ASU Media Relations Office)