Welcoming Back Dave Serrano


Dave Serrano is back at the University of Tennessee and has already made a splash.

There were a lot of questions left by the last baseball regime. But Serrano came in and wasted no time answering them with wins.

The team’s true test won’t come until the Houston College Classic in early March (they face Rice and Texas) and then once they hit the ‘Murder’s Row’ that is the SEC schedule. However, the Base-Vols made a statement with their first series of 2012.

Sweeping Northern Illinois, including a double-header Saturday, was a good start. But doing so with scores of 7-1, 10-5, and 7-2 is very impressive.

I wasn’t sure how the Vols would look this season, and while it is still early, I like what I see. Part of it is due to Serrano and his new way of thinking. Listening to his post-game interview Friday I heard things that brought a smile to my face and made me excited for the future of UT baseball.

1. He told Jimmy Hyams and John Wilkerson on Sports Talk that he couldn’t have been happier to start his career here with a hit by pitch. He said that it was better than a crisp single hit to left field. His mentality is that if they are going to pitch the team inside, then they are going to take some pitches for the team. It might be a little painful, but it’s a baserunner.

2. His plan to ease the pitchers into the season is very smart. He knows that he has guys that can go 6 innings, however, he is limiting his staff. By giving them a pitch limit, it saves their arms for a long and grueling season and it allows for underclassmen to get valuable experience early. If your senior starters and veteran closer work all the games then your freshmen won’t have early game experience. And it is better for them to face a Seton Hall lineup early than to try and face a Florida or a South Carolina.

3. He hit Steckenrider 4th. This guy can rake. And I never understood why, if you have a DH spot, you don’t hit a pitcher who can crush the ball. Serrano apparently sees this and plays him and what happens? SEC Player of the Week honors. He is 5-8 with 5 runs scored, 2 RBIs, 1 HR, 2 doubles, 4 walks, 2 HBP and a stolen base. He has reached base 11 of his 14 plate appearances…oh and he also got the win on Friday.

4. Serrano plays small ball. Most people love to see home runs, and they are effective. However, if you live by the homer, you die in the droughts. If they can’t hit the long ball then you don’t generate runs. Serrano, however, is clearly teaching these players small ball. After the first batter was hit by a pitch, Serrano tried to bunt him over. It failed, but it set a tone. One that paid dividends in safety squeezes on Saturday. However, he doesn’t always have to rely on small ball if the bats are connecting, but having players that can execute small ball will be key when they face top SEC-calibur pitching later this season.

Dave Serrano was awarded the game ball by the players after his first career win on Friday. I have a feeling though, that it won’t be his last. He is teaching these players good baseball, and they have bought in. I expect this team to surprise some people this season.