Former ‘Cy Young’ winner Johan Santana makes coaching debut for Canterbury middle
The members of the Canterbury Middle School baseball team knew they were getting a new pitching coach this season but didn’t exactly know his resume.
“I had an idea of who he was. I had heard his name before. But the first time I met him, I did go look him up,” admitted infielder, Anthony Valenzuela.
On the contrary, the team’s head coach Spencer Stegemann knew the name Johan Santana very well.
“I’m not going to say no to a former big leaguer and Cy Young Award winner helping me out,” said Stegemann.
However, it’s taken a lot of convincing from Cougars varsity head coach Frank Turco to get the former Minnesota Twins ace in Canterbury colors.
“I’ve been trying to get him for years,” said Turco.
With Santana’s son on the middle school team this year, the former Cy Young Award winner thought it was the right time to make his coaching debut.
“It’s different because as a player you always want to play but as a coach my job is to teach them and help them realize what’s happening on the field and especially on the mound,” said Santana.
Just like his time in the Major Leagues, Santana’s impact is felt most on the mound.
Stegemann says when the season started only two players on the roster were pitchers and Santana found and coached up six more.
“Pitching is a big part of the game. But on the first day, nobody wanted to pitch,” recalled Santana.
“To me, what is important is for them to feel important in the game and that’s how they got into pitching.”
Whether Santana is assisting the middle school team or hanging around the varsity dugout, Turco says the program enjoys having him around.
“He’s great with out kids and they love having him out there,” said Turco.
“He’s like a big kid, himself, to be honest.”
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