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Gary Henderson on Big Blue Weekly

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UK baseball head coach Gary Henderson (photo by Chet White, UK athletics) UK baseball head coach Gary Henderson (photo by Chet White, UK athletics)
UK baseball head coach Gary Henderson joined Neil Price on Big Blue Weekly from The Cellar on Lanesdowne Drive on Wednesday night. Below is a transcript of Henderson and Price's conversation during the 30-minute show.

On how early you start forming a lineup, rotation, etc. ...
"The first thing you ever do is make sure that everybody is healthy and you start getting them prepared. The first 10 days to two weeks you kind of break down the body a little bit out of pure repetition, weight room, yoga, cardio, practice, and all those things. Then you start to build it back up. Nobody gets crossed off the list; you are just getting them ready. As a coach you always have ideas of what it might look like. And one of the things that I have found as I have gotten more experience, gotten older and done it more often is that everything is written in pencil. You just don't know. You think you know, but you don't know. Not in every area, but in certain areas. Going back for several years now, coach (John) Cohen and I used to have some discussions and disagreements in terms of what that bullpen would look like or the starting rotation. Sometimes John was right, sometimes I was right. What I learned through that whole process is you just wait. You get everybody prepared and you hope that those kids absolutely force you to play them. That is what you are hoping for."

On how a pitching background as a head coach differs from a hitting background ...
"There are different things to look at. But certainly there is a different focus in practice. Where your times is spent and how much importance you spend on getting those 27 outs. Also in fairness to everybody, the game is different than it was eight or 10 years ago. Those bats are different. All you have to do is look at the power numbers, the average numbers, what those guys in the bottom half of the order are able to do, the slugging percentage and the on base percentage. Those things have changed over time. Guys have made adjustments to their offenses. You are seeing a lot more attempted steals then you did a few years ago. It is a more part of the game (now) and you are seeing a lot more short game."

On preseason All-America two-way standout A.J. Reed and his offseason progress ...
"Well, the skill set is pretty good. A.J. is making the normal progress that you would hope guys make, probably a little bit more than normal. He has done a really, really good job of changing his body the last four months. He looks great. Fans are going to recognize him but they are also going to recognize that he is a little bit trimmer. He has dropped about 20 pounds. His bat speed is little bit better. He is moving better, left to right, at first base. He is repeating his delivery at a high level. It is pretty exciting."

On how changing his body physically can help 6-foot-4, 240-pound LHP/1B A.J. Reed ...
"You are just carrying less weight. If you are hoping to do something 85 to 110 times and you are doing it with 20 less pounds on your body it is going to be easier to do and easier to repeat and easier to explode at release. The bat speed is going to be able to stay in place longer. The body is easier to control. The brain feels better because you are not fatigued. It is all of it. It is all related. It is important. He has done a really good job. I am proud of him."

On how A.J.'s work ethic in the offseason pleases a coach ...
"Well, it does. The other thing it does is the influence it has on his peers. It sends a message that what he is doing is important. I am really proud of him. It is like anybody, you lose 15-20 pounds, that is work, that is effort. He has done it and he is going to benefit from it."

On Austin Cousino working hard in the offseason and playing with a chip on his shoulder in 2014 ...
"The swing is good. He has worked hard. You are going to see a stronger body. A little bit more athletic look. The swing has always been nice. It has been a pretty swing, really. What you are going to see is a much more disciplined approach and a freer mind. We are really excited about what Austin has done."

On sophomore southpaw Sam Mahar bouncing back from missing 2013 due to injury ...
"Sam has done great. The work ethic is outstanding. His feel for pitching, his ability to create and repeat are at a much different level then they were the first two years. It is really not even close at this point. We just have to get him back in the game and get him comfortable again. He had a really, really solid freshman year for us. He is a good competitor, his feel, his confidence, all of that stuff is at a higher level than it has ever been.

On having some returning guys fans know and some new faces to learn ...
"As you mentioned that bullpen is going to be different. Fans are going to see some returning guys, six or seven guys that they have seen in the everyday lineup before and they have a feel for who they are. Then you are going to know who those starting pitchers are as well. And again, they have to stay healthy and they have to perform. But we have some guys that we run out there that all of our guys are going to know. Having said that, we are going to have a new second baseman. We are going to have a new guy in the outfield. And that bullpen is going to be new. Those guys that we knew and loved for two and three years are gone. Trevor (Gott) is gone. Walt (Wijas) is gone. Alex Phillips was here for a couple years and did a good job. You are going to see some new names. You are going to see Zach Strecker, you are going to see Sam Mahar back and doing it for us. There are going to be some new people back there. They are going to be a little up and down as there always is when you are putting a bullpen together. We have a good group. We have some strike throwers down there and I am excited to put it together."

On LHP transfer Matt Snyder joining the roster last week after Temple announced cutting the program ...
"They did. And we are glad to have Matt. He is going to help us. He is also a kid that is in his third school in three semesters by no fault of his own. Anytime you make change in your life, especially at a young age, there is a period of transition. He has to get acclimated. He has to get to know his teammates. He has to find his way around campus. He has a new living situation. So he is making all those transitions. He is doing well. He threw again today. He did extremely well. At some point in time he is going to be able to help us."

On the season opener vs. No. 14 Virginia in Wilmington, N.C., before traveling to Norfolk, Va. ...
"We are. Those are beautiful places in June, July and August and I am hoping they are beautiful in February. We are facing good people, good teams and we are looking forward to it." 

On the importance of the opening to the season ...
"What I think is that you want all the opportunities to play that you can because you have to get that thing figured out. You have four weekends (before SEC play) and who knows what the weather is going to do.  And that is the same everywhere. But what you want to do is do the best job and putting those kids in positions they need to be in so when you take that that trip on March 13 to Tuscaloosa that you have the best foundation in place to be successful that you can. Sometimes it is easier said than done. I look around the league every year and you will see someone in the first couple of weekends have a completely different role on a pitching staff or a team, or positionally or in the batting order. But you do the best job you can in the first 18 or 20 games but then the conference games start and you hope you have the foundation. That is really the value of having the older club. Those first four weekends it is all about who can pitch in the sixth, who can pitch in the ninth and who needs to pitch the first five innings."

On how important leadership and team dynamic is the success of the team ...
"You start talking about what the art of really what a baseball club is. All you have to do is look at MLB last year and what the preseason rankings were. And the Red Sox are picked 15th and all of a sudden they have a guy like David Ross and (Jonny) Gomes that are a part of their mix and all of a sudden it is a different clubhouse. It is different feel then it was the previous year. Long story short, they win the World Series. You look at your kids and you hope that they can create the same synergy and the same sense of belonging within themselves that you have to have to have good teams. That comes from, the bulk of it, comes from your older kids."

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