Feb. 15, 2010

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Nine Innings with Tim Esmay

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


Tim 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 position.

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 players.

Sixth Inning – How valuable is it to the offense to have two seniors back in Raoul Torrez and Kole Calhoun?

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)