As we build up to the start of the 2009 baseball season, the Herts Newswire will be running a series of exclusive interviews with some of the people who will be making the headlines in British Baseball in 2009. Leading off we have an interview with the newly appointed Herts Raptors Manager, Andrew Slater.
What was your reason for choosing to play the game of baseball and not one of the other sports?
I had previously played many sports including football and more recently American football.
I never had any link to baseball until my friend Kyle Hunlock (member of Herts Falcons in 2005) alerted me of how big baseball was in this country. I was looking for a new challenge and having only been a rookie last season and now a manager I certainly have one.
Do you prefer managing or playing?
I have captained and coached in other sports and have enjoyed the experience. So I hope that will not change. One thing I do know is I love playing the game.
How would you describe yourself as a manager?
This is a hard question to answer. The words that come to mind are: Committed; Passionate; Easy to talk to; Motivational.
Baseball teams in Great Britain always try to find the right balance between being competitive and providing enjoyment and a fair amount of playing time for all. Which of the two would be more important for you as a manager, competitiveness or individual player satisfaction?
Both competitiveness and individual player satisfaction go hand in hand. If you seize the playing time you are given with full commitment in improving yourself and helping the team move forward. Then both the player and team will win. If you have a squad of 15 players all fighting to improve themselves this will lead to a great level of competitiveness within the squad as well as in the league.
What are you looking forward to most in 2009?
I’m looking forward to another season of playing and helping to introduce new players to some enjoyable baseball, and moving the team forward into its 2nd season.
Which will be the most important ingredient for your team in 2009 – pitching, defence, offence, speed, teamwork or maybe something else?
I believe all are important in the game of baseball. On previous experience in sports I have learnt the team with the better defence tends to be victorious. I believe this is the first place to start with a team, which include rookie players. I also feel that no team will work without good teamwork.
Being the manager of the Club's Single-A team, means that the other three managers are able to pick players ahead of you. Do you think that this is going to be a big problem in fielding a competitive team?
With our existing Herts players and the very good group of new players who have made an appearance so far this year, I am full of confidence that all 4 teams will be strong in 2009.
Is there one player that you are hoping the Falcons, Eagles and Hawks Managers will forget to pick for their team?
I couldn’t possibly pick.
After the players are split into their respective teams this Spring, do you think there should be a lot of movement of players between the Herts teams, or would you prefer to identify your players at the beginning and work with these same players the whole year?
Player movement will be very important this season. This will give players the goals and aims they need to improve and work themselves up the Herts baseball franchise. It will also give players the chance to move down a level to try out new positions such as pitching.
What are your team's objectives for the season in terms of place in the league standings and win-loss record?
My top aim this season is players’ improvement and creating a team who love to play the game and are happy whatever the end result. When it comes to standings, an improvement of last season’s 2-9 is well within this team’s capabilities. If the season ends 6-6 then that will be a great result but I believe we can do even better.
What message would you like to give to the 2009 players who will be playing in your team?
Hopefully the previous answers in this interview will give any player who will be involved with the Raptors an insight of things to come. All I can add is that I hope you all are looking forward to the coming season as much as I am.
Stay tuned to the Herts Newswire. Next week, Hawks Manager, Marty Cullen Sr, shares his thoughts on the DH Rule, the future of British baseball, the secret of the Falcons’ success, why Baseball is the best team sport and much more.