Bret Lasky gives you a look at the unique challenge for left-handed batters and right fielders at McCormick Field.
Einar Diaz, Shorebirds field coach, spent much of the off season in Panama as the manager of the Panama National Team in the 2011 Baseball World Cup. It was the first time that Panama had ever hosted the event (39th World Cup).
The Panama National team did very well in round-robin play going 5-2 with wins over Greece (8-3), Chinese Taipei (14-8), Puerto Rico (4-2), Japan (6-2) and Canada (12-3). They won five straight games before losing to the Netherlands (the eventual winner of the entire event) and the United States.
Panama was one of eight teams that advanced past the first round. Panama opened the second round with a win over Venezuela, but a loss to South Korea ended their hopes of a gold medal run. Panama wound up finishing eighth.
Netherlands beat Cuba 2-1 to win the gold medal.
Panama placed three players on the All-Star Team: Damaso Espino, Concepcion Rodriguez and Fernando Seguignol.
Einar is part of a long and established list of former major league players from Panama. Some of the current players include: Carlos Ruiz, Mariano Rivera and Manny Acosta. Former players include: Rod Carew, Ruben Rivera and Ramon “Ray” Webster.
The Shorebirds have the benefit this year of a young, but really experienced coaching staff. Diaz, Ryan Minor and Troy Mattes are all under the age of 40 and have an encyclopedia’s worth of baseball knowledge.
Jason Esposito, Shorebirds third baseman and Orioles second round draft pick, played his college baseball at Vanderbilt. Three years ago Josh Holliday, the older brother of Matt Holliday, became the hitting coach at Vanderbilt. Josh is considered one of the top assistants in college baseball. Matt is of course one of the top hitters in major league baseball. In case you need numbers back that last sentence up, Matt is a five-time MLB all-star who hit .296 with 22 home runs 75 RBIs for the world champion Cardinals last season.
So, Josh Holliday was Jason’s hitting coach at Vandy the last two seasons he was there. Josh was a very good college baseball player himself. In 1999, he helped guide Oklahoma State to the College World Series by hitting .290 with 15 home runs and 65 RBIs.
Here is a link to Josh’s bio on Vanderbilt’s website if you want to learn more – CLICK HERE
Haven’t talked to Jason yet about the connection but it’s certainly an interesting one.
Talk to you all tonight!