Q&A with Scott Forbes

With the fall baseball season underway, Inside Carolina caught up with Scott Forbes, UNC's pitching coach and associate head coach.

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What has this offseason been like with your new responsibilities as associate head coach with the departure of Coach Holbrook to South Carolina?

"Really, I wouldn't say that my responsibilities have changed that much. Every school has to have a recruiting coordinator to coordinate the events, the paperwork, etc. As far as going out and evaluating talent and making home visits we have always split up the duties. Coach Holbrook and I were gone on the road equally pretty much all summer. There were summers where I would be gone more and some summers where he would be gone more. The recruiting coordinator would end up going to more games in the spring because the pitching coach would not miss any spring games. But in the summer - it is chaos. Fortunately the last three years we have been in Omaha for a long time, but when you get back you have a day at home then you are gone all summer.

"This summer was a bit unusual after Chad left -- we did not have another coach in play since we wanted to make sure to get the right one -- so I was on the road doing most of the recruiting and Coach Fox would come out when he could; obviously he still had his head coaching responsibilities. The fact that I had another child gave me four days off, I was fortunate to make it back for that barely. That was a pretty good story...

"Everybody recruits on the staff; in baseball the two assistants are going to be on the road a lot during the summer. It is a group effort for everybody. Coach McCay and everybody involved with official visits, they are important and Coach Fox does a great job spending quality time with each recruit. But it has been a hectic summer -- staying on the road, in hotels and watching a lot of baseball games."

Talk about your pitching philosophy, especially the "staying with the process" that Coach Fox has alluded to quite often last season...

"I guess I am just a day-to-day person. Obviously you have to plan for the future and learn from the past -- that has always been my saying and is something I learned from my dad -- but you also want to enjoy this day. The thing we want our pitchers to focus on is working hard today to get better and that defines staying with the process. The process is trying to get better every single day. Don't look so much towards February and playing -- everybody would rather play than practice -- concentrate on today, doing our lifting and doing throwing and whatever else we are supposed to do. You can have ups and downs or bad outings but you can stay with it and learn to forget that outing but learn from it. Be ready each day to focus on the task at hand which will bring good results. "

Tell me about the way that the team calls pitches and scouts opposing teams...

"With Tim [Federowicz], and we had Benji [Johnson], and Mark [Fleury] guys that are experienced, I will allow them to call some pitches and we are going to work together. They are going to know what I like to do and have an idea what our attack plan is. We are going to have detailed scouting reports -- we take a lot of pride in breaking teams down and trying to pick up any weakness anything we can see to help us have an advantage. On the other hand, all of this can be thrown out the door in the first inning if something changes, if you pitcher doesn't have his pitch working or whatever. It is a lot of work together with the pitchers, catchers and coaches because we are the ones working on the scouting report. Especially with student-athletes, I don't really want to send them home with a scouting report on a Thursday night when they have an test on Friday morning. They trust me and they know that we will be prepared and I just want them to focus on playing and doing what they do -- staying with the process and getting their work done.

"As far as the scouting report and relaying the pitches, it is seeing what the other team has and figuring out what we need to do. On the other side of that, we do pitch to our strengths. Just because a guy can't hit a breaking ball and my best pitch is a fastball, that means he still needs to hit it, especially if I don't have a great breaking ball, like Andrew Carignan -- he has a great fastball and challenges you to hit it. It is pretty simple and our catchers do a great job of paying attention to detail. I want them to learn and take pride in remembering hitters during the game and the scouting reports and kind of take a sense of ownership also and call some pitches themselves... and our pitchers can shake off the pitch any time they want. "

How has your background as a catcher helped in coaching the pitchers?

"It has really helped a lot. Being a catcher you get to see a lot -- mechanically what the ball is doing and where it is going, how is it moving and what kind of tilt does the breaking ball have. When I caught I remember having good relationships with pitchers and telling them what I saw; sometimes it helps but we try not to over coach the players here. From the instinct standpoint I think it helped me since I can to throw with them and can get back there and catch them. That is why there are some major league guys who were catchers who are coaching pitchers, kind of relating to the pitchers well and knowing what they need to be doing mechanically and mentally to have some success."

Tell me about your background coaching with Coach Jackson...

"I played in college against Coach Jackson's twin brother, Kevin, who was a really good player. I got to know him when I was playing at North Carolina Wesleyan and his brother was playing at Greensboro College while Scott was playing at Campbell. I met him when he was the volunteer coach at Campbell. We got to know each other and built a relationship and then one year I was going to Wilmington and I asked him if he wanted to come coach with me in Wilmington and he did and we had a great time and developed a great relationship.

"After coaching with him in the summer I thought he would become a great coach. He has a great work ethic and was always on time taking care of everything and related very well to the players. We kind of built on it since and have a lot of things in common and are family-oriented guys. We have a lot of the same interests. He is just a baseball guy -- baseball is a pretty simple game and we both are not the 'baseball guru' type coaches that think they invented the game... "

What kind of throwing program do you use and is it different for starting or relief pitchers?

"I would say it is pretty much the same for all pitchers. We believe in throwing a lot and want to be in great shape and want to be conditioned. Our throwing program consists of everything -- we call it the total program of throwing, which is core work, flexibility, strength training and conditioning, but most importantly to the pitchers is throwing. I think that it gets a little lost in this age of seeing how big and strong everyone can get, but they are not throwing. You become a good hitter by hitting and so become a good pitcher by throwing.

"So our pitchers throw pretty much seven days a week and throw around when they pitch. Obviously a starter is a little different since they will throw once a week and will throw bullpen sessions in between, whereas a reliever when we play five games a week will probably not get a bullpen opportunity unless we blow someone out on the weekend. He'll jump on the mound on Monday in order to get a good feel for when he gets into the game on Tuesday or Wednesday.

"It is pretty simple -- our guys they throw a baseball pretty much seven days a week. Even if you pitch about a 100 pitches on Friday, for instance Alex [White] will at least throw 90 feet the day after a start to get the range of motion back. It is just a little different because the starters will end up doing the long toss a little bit more but the relievers it is kind of a learning process for them -- it is individualized and it is a matter that they need to know their own arm. If you are the closer you are available every day unless you have thrown too many pitches and we have told you that you are done and you kind of get your lifting or need to get your throwing done. "

Around college baseball you hear about people adjusting throwing slots and making mechanical changes with pitchers' form...

"Honestly, the game of baseball is really over coached. There are a few basic principles that if you go way back in time and watch and incorporate with your team … what we talk about here is being on a good line in the direction -- not being too open or not throwing too far against your body and wanting to be in line and balance over the rubber. If you do those things you will have some success mechanically. I think everybody's arm slot is different. Rarely will you change someone's arm slot and probably never will you raise it up higher.

"Arm slot you just keep an eye on video to make sure whatever their natural arm slot is they are staying in it - unless they need to make a change. Rob Wooten is an example of that, but Alex White at the end of his freshman year his arm was getting tired and started dropping his arm and he was slinging the ball because he was fatigued. So he worked hard last year making sure he was strong and he was keeping his arm slot up at that three quarters slot. A guy like Wooten, Rob came to me and he was really struggling and we were talking about what we could do to help him get better because his ball was flat and he was throwing over the top. He actually approached me about the idea of moving his arm slot down and it was kind of weird since a couple of days before I was talking with Coach Fox about how we might want to think about moving his arm slot down but we would give him a little more time. But he approached me and I have to give him a lot of credit for wanting to make that change. It took a while and the key for Rob was he changed it in the middle of the year in 2006 and we threw bullpen after bullpen after bullpen and then that summer he went to play in the Coastal Plain League and it started to click for him. He gained a lot of confidence in that arm slot and when we got back he continued to get better as he was here. He gained a lot of pitches from that arm slot with the cut fastball and he always had a good feel for the spin on the slider... "

What do you think that the University of North Carolina has to offer the top pitching prospects across the United States?

"I think our development speaks for itself and our pitchers will improve. We might be biased, but I think we offer them an opportunity to come to the best university all around if you are going to play baseball with a great baseball program along with a great academic institution with a great social environment. I think that the pitchers know that we have a duty to prepare them for the next level. That is the kind of pitchers and position players that we want: to be in a position if they choose to be able to sign after their junior year. Our pitchers have been able to do that.

"We offer them everything to improve and we will take care of their arms as well. We will not sacrifice hurting a kid's arm for a win. We are going to take care of their arms and keep an eye on their pitch counts and not going to throw them a 110 pitches and come back to throw 100 three days later. I think that they know that and their parents know that. There are some coaches that will throw you out there for 150 pitches on their first outing. That is crazy -- these kids' arms could be their living. At North Carolina you are never going to have to ask me what your pitch count is -- you know that when your pitch count is where it needs to be we will take you out of the game. "

What kind of amenities will the new Boshamer Stadium have for the pitching staff?

"Everything. You will have our weight room, obviously, it is so convenient. We had our little one before at the Bosh, but now you can incorporate your lifting along with practice and your training room to get all of your treatment down there. Then our indoor facility, with three mounds so you can throw whenever you want -- they are real mounds and they have everything. It will be so nice not having to go anywhere if it is raining -- you just can stay here. Obviously the field and the playing surface will be top notch and will make it easier for our guys to succeed when they can take advantage of everything down there for them. "

What do you like best about your position?

"Probably the relationships with the players and the other coaches, the camaraderie and being on the field helping kids improve in every area. You hope you can help them not just in baseball; we want to develop kids. Being 18 to 22 years of age is a tough time of life in some ways and we want to coach them in life obviously."

What long term career goals do you have?

"I definitely want to be a head coach. I would like to be a head coach at a great university like UNC where I could recruit the best players in the country and have a chance to play in Omaha each year."


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