Season Preview Q&A with Dennis Holmberg

Season Preview Q&A with Dennis Holmberg

InsideTheDome sat down with Auburn manager Dennis Holmberg this week and talked to him about the 2006 club. Find out what Holmberg thinks of this team, why he enjoys managing at this level, and which players he is most impressed at early this year.

InsideTheDome: Talk a little about this year's crop of players?

Dennis Holmberg: The guys look good. They're energetic, they're young,, and have a lot of enthusiasm. It's a little different look in offensive ability this year. Last year's club had more power coming in, while this year there are some guys that will hit for power, but overall this year's club has more speed. There has been an acquisition of speed in the organization that will be very, very helpful to the minor leagues and the big league eventually.

InsideTheDome: Who has caught your eye early on?

Dennis Holmberg: Luke Hopkins our first baseman, the kid out of New Mexico State has tremendous power. Matt Lane, the catcher from Washington, hit a two-run homer (Tuesday). Shawn Scobee, from Nevada, Reno has some power. I think that would be it around the horn. It's early though. My intentions are to get everyone in as quickly as possible and get their nerves and butterflies out of the way. We need to get everyone some at-bats and play together and get into a flow.

InsideTheDome: Is the team on the field today the team for the 2006 season?

Dennis Holmberg: No, we have already had one addition in Scott Campbell who joins us from New Zealand by way of Gonzaga. I'm sure there's another catcher to join us (Holmberg hinting about Brian Jeroloman). Pitcher Josh Sowers is on his way to the Lansing Lugnuts. He was with us last year but there are restrictions on 23-year-olds at this level so he'll move up. His leaving will make the decisions we need to make about our other 23-year-olds a bit easier.

InsideTheDome: You're the first professional manager these youngsters get to work with. Do you take a little extra pride in being able to mold them into future Toronto Blue Jays?

Dennis Holmberg: Yes, I think this level is very important. It's very important for them to understand the fundamentals of the game. It's important for them to have a father figure. This is their first adventure into pro ball and it's a big deal. You've worked all your life to get to where you're at, and it becomes a golden opportunity. I want to give everyone a chance and if they do bad I'll pat them on the back, and if they do well I'll pat them on the back twice.

InsideTheDome: Talk a little about this level and the impact it makes on a player?

Dennis Holmberg: Every player goes through a metamorphosis from their first year out to their second and third year. When guys get to Triple-A they become different breeds of animals. They're just one step away from the big leagues. They have been sent up and they have been sent down. So when somebody goes up and they don't get the call they're not happy. It's a different type of management skills at that level. Here you tell these kids to run through a brick wall they ask, "how many times coach". Tell a guy in Triple-A to do that and he'll say...ah, not today.

Holmberg is pleased with the prospects that have come through during his Auburn tenure, including Russ Adams, Aaron Hill, and Alex Rios. What future stars are in Auburn today? Whoever they are Toronto has the guy to mold them into major league talent.

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