Baseball: Q and A with catcher Brian Hernandez

Transfer catcher Brian Hernandez has attracted some buzz recently with his commanding catching style and powerful hitting ability. Hernandez took of his mask for a minutes to talk to Vandy Mania about his new career at Vanderbilt and catching philosophy.

Hernandez got started in baseball with a little coaching from his father, Brian Hector Hernandez, at the age of four. Hernandez eventually lead his team to the semi-finals of the Little League World Series, and in high school, earned his district's Player of Year title for helping his team to the state semi-finals.

Hernandez played at Duke University for two years before transferring to Vanderbilt last summer. 2005 is Hernandez's inaugural season with the Commodores.

Q: What led to your decision to transfer?

A: I started for two years, I was getting a lot of playing time. But I didn't necessarily feel like I was getting better. I've known about this program, especially last summer when they were on TV playing Texas. I started thinking about transferring because this is a great school and I've known Coach Corbin for a while, he recruited when me when he was at Clemson.

I was looking at a couple of places closer to home, but I made my decision to transfer here just because I want to get better and this seemed like the perfect place.

Q: How was the transition between schools?

A: I knew a couple of the guys and that made it easier, it wasn't like I was coming in knowing no one whatsoever. Plus I played against Warner in various showcases when we were in high school. I didn't know him very well but I knew who he was. The guys here have been absolutely tremendous. I love it, I'm having a great time.

Q: How was your first home run at Hawkins Field?

A: I honestly didn't even know if it was going to go out or not. I hit and I was just running and I knew there were two outs and guys on first and third and I was just hoping to get those guys in and get myself in scoring position on second. I was coming across first base and I saw the umpire motion that I had a home run. I had a little smile on my face, I was trying not to show it too much, but I was excited.

Q: Do you have any goals for the season?

A: My goal for the season is to help this team get to Omaha. They had a great season last year, I wasn't a part of it. I had nothing to do with it so I hope I can come in and help the team take the next step. I don't really have any personal goals. Hopefully coming in and helping the team win help the personal stuff will take care of itself.

Q: How are you feeling about the Baylor series this weekend?

A: We've got a tough series this weekend. We've been on a good little streak here and hopefully we'll continue our momentum into this weekend and play our game. Hopefully we'll come out with 3-0, but we're really just concentrating on Friday right now, you know, just come up with a W on Friday and then we'll worry about the rest later. It's going to be tough, Baylor's a good team.

Q: What are your plans for immediately after college?

A: I want to play baseball. But I'm majoring in communications so hopefully I'll be able to do something with that and any type of sport. I just love sports in general.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the future?

A: I could definitely be happy without baseball but it's something that I love to do. It's a passion of mine, and it's been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I really can't see my life without it. I know in some shape or form it will be involved with me for the rest of my life. I hope to raise a family. You know, I'm getting older, I'm 21 now so I gotta look towards the future a little bit. Raising a family is something that's definitely important.

Q: At Duke you alternated between catcher and DH. Do you prefer one more than the other?

A: Well, when everything is going good hitting is awesome. But I love to catch, I think you have to in order to catch. It's such a demanding position. You do a lot of work and you don't get a lot of praise. And you're kind of coaching when you're on the field. Everyone is looking at you and you're the only guy facing the other eight guys on the field. And you have to direct things and tell everybody what to do. You have to learn how to handle pitches. Being new I had to learn how to handle a whole new pitching staff, and learn different guys personalities, what fires them up, what gets them down, how to pick them up. I think catching is one of my favorite things to do.

Q: What attracted you catching?

A: I've been catching since I was seven. I don't really know why I started, I just did. I guess I have the body type for it. In high school it was all I ever really did.

Q: What draws you to baseball?

A: It's just a great game. It's the only game where you just have two opposing players, a pitcher and a hitter. And for that time it's one on one. In basketball and football you have so many different factors but here it's really just pitcher vs. hitter. Hitting is probably one of the hardest things to do in sports. You have .4 seconds to decide what you're going to do, where to hit it, where's it going to be and do you want to swing.

Q: The media guide listed Phil Collins as your favorite artist. Is this a typo?

A: No, nope. I like the later Phil Collins. I like a lot of his stuff. I had to pick a musician and it was a toss up between him and Billy Joel. I'm an 80s fan. Top Stories