The Sooner baseball coaching staff is finally settled as former Tennessee Pitching Coach Fred Corral takes over a similar post at OU. Corral replaces Ray Hayward, who resigned his position under pressure following the 2004 season.
Corral comes to OU with tremendous credentials after a great career at Tennessee. What I have always found is that each pitching coach comes in with his own personal philosophy and each pitching coach has his way of doing things. What is the Corral way? Well he took the time to sit down with us for this OUInider.com Extra.
JH: How did you wind up at OU considering you had a great career going at Tennessee?
FC: "I did have a great thing going at Tennessee, but I developed a great relationship with Sunny Golloway when I coached with him in Alaska. When the interview process got started he called to let me that my name had come up as a possible candidate for the job. Things just went from there and now I am at Oklahoma."
JH: So you were interested in Oklahoma because of what you were told about the program by Golloway?
FC: "I have known Sunny since 1993 and we have kept touch as the years have gone by. When the job came open I received a call from Sunny saying that my name was floating out there, and that made me feel very good. That was very flattering that other people thought I was doing a good job. So, when they asked for permission to talk to me that was very exciting."
JH: What has been your impression of the Oklahoma Baseball program at this time?
FC: "Oklahoma has a great baseball tradition, and that was part of the reason why I had selected the University of Tennessee a couple of years ago, because Tennessee has a rich baseball tradition as well. I have always known of Oklahoma's baseball tradition, and when given the opportunity you have to weigh out all options. It was just a great fit for me."
JH: Didn't you had a great run at Tennessee finishing in the top 15 in the country in ERA over the last couple of years?
FC: "I don't know if I did any of that because I was just fortunate to have a great group of guys that were very talented. Talent-wise, we were above average. The thing that was so outstanding about the young men at Tennessee was that their work ethic was so outstanding. They believed in themselves and we developed a routine, a philosophy and we went with it. It was a tribute to what Tennessee has done on the pitching mound the last few years goes to the type of kids that I have been able to coach."
JH: What is your philosophy as a pitching coach?
FC: "I guess it is a simple one in that I want my guys to not have a fear of contact. I want them to approach hitters and attack them aggressively. We want to play the rule of 63, in that 63 percent of all batted balls are going to be outs. With those kind of percentages we are going to attack and be aggressive. We want to the hitter to see as few as pitchers as possible. We want to put the ball in play and let the seven guys behind us get the job done."
JH: In other words, throw strikes right?
FC: "Yes, throw strikes, and a lot of them. We want to induce contact early."
JH: It seems it is so hard for pitchers to take the inside part of the plate any more. What is your philosophy on pitching inside?
FC: "It will be our priority. Our last two years at Tennessee our priority has been to pitch in and attack hitters. We had a term called ‘blowing up the hitter' and that is all in reference to attacking aggressively and attacking the area of contract and have them put the ball in play. We will establish inside before going away. That has been very successful here in the SEC and I hope to continue that at Oklahoma."
JH: Do you have any idea what kind of talent you have at Oklahoma?
FC: "I don't know a lot about them. I do know a great deal about Coach Cochell and Coach Golloway, and that alone lets me know that the pitchers have to have a good deal of ability. They are OU athletes. And when you taking about premiere athletes, premiere athletes generally choose Oklahoma."
JH: What are some of your techniques that you like to use?
FC: "I am a guy that likes to use video tape, but I am not a guy that likes to analyize everything. In this day and age kids are always looking for that edge. You have pitching gurus that work with these kids at a young age and a lot of these kids are into what little edge they can gain in increasing their ability. I use the video tape to not only, in a sense, help them improve, but to solidify the fact that they are OK and they have to go back to priority No. 1.
"Is there a perfect delivery? Let's get back into the target and be professional target hitters. I use a lot of video and a lot of game charts. My philosophy is to give the kids everything that I have and to give him a complete understanding of what I do. Then, together we can build and enhance that philosophy. If he knows what I know then he himself can start getting creative and together we can both learn as coach and athlete."
JH: Do you have a certain wind-up that you like to use?
FC: "I'm not a cookie-cutter type of pitching coach. I do understand that each guy has his own little system that he likes to use, and he has been throwing that way for a number of years. He is a master of what he already does. My philosophy, as far as the mechanics approach, I believe fits into every guy's approach. We will just find a way to fit it into what he already does.That is the truest way to gain success. Every guy that comes out here is looking to make a spot on the team and the last thing that he needs is to spend time working on a new approach. The last thing that he needs is to back track a little bit, before they go into an improvement state. We want improve what they already have."
JH: Everybody says a starter needs three pitches to be successful. Do you have certain pitches that you like your pitchers to throw."
FC: "I like, in determining a third pitch besides the fastball and change up, greatly depends on the individual. Everybody has different arm angles. We are not going to create a new arm angle arm slot to throw a curveball, and therefor we are not going to create a new arm slot to throw a slider. I think you have to work with what a young man has.
"As far what I prefer what a young man throws, I would like a fastball and something off that fastball that chances speeds or brings a variance of speed. Then, you want a change of direction pitch. Now, whether that is a splitfinger, a curveball, slider or even a sink peice, that is all up to the individual and how he approaches pitching. My philosophy is that I just want a change of direction and a change of pace to go with a fastball.
JH: Everybody is just trying to get movement on the ball aren't they?
FC: "Movement is a big factor and movement is a bigger factor than velocity. Ultimately, location is the key to pitching. Second would be location and third would be velocity. I am under the impression that hitters can't judge speed and can't see spin, and if we have anything that is late moving then we are going to be OK.'
Q&A with OU baseball pitching coach Fred Corral
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