Sports

Dirtbags’ Steele leading new wave of arms

One-by-one Mike Steele sizes up his pitchers. He knows their pitching repertoires and routines, and his job to help them make the necessary adjustments to improve both as pitchers and people.

“He tells us from day one exactly who we are as a pitcher,” senior right-hander Kyle Friedrichs said. “Were confident, we have a lot of trust in him, he calls a lot of pitches for us and he knows what to do. He sees a lot of stuff we don’t see.”

Long Beach State’s new pitching coach believes developing pitchers’ character is just as important as developing talent.

“We’re growing boys into men,” Steele said. “The pillars that we work off of, when you do that, is how in control they are of the things they can control: their attitude, their concentration and their effort.”

Helping these athletes make the transition from boyhood to manhood is part of the foundation of the Dirtbag program.

“That’s the one thing that we hit them with all the time,” Steele said. “Whether I’m working with a high school guy, a professional guy or a college guy. We’re all about maturity.”

Prior to coaching at LBSU, Steele was an assistant coach at Michigan State University. After working their time with the Spartans, Dirtbags’ head coach Troy Buckley and Steele coached together for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The previous job with the Pirates allowed Steele and Buckley to develop a close relationship in which they shared the same baseball ideology.

“I always told myself [if I went back to college], I wanted to go work for somebody that I shared similar values and similar philosophy with,” Steele said. “Also, I wanted to go to a place that was going to present a family environment where we’re at.”

Despite having a resume that includes professional and Division I college coaching experience, the most difficult part of getting Steele on board was making sure it was the right decision for his family.

“He’s a devoted family guy,” Buckley said. “He’s got three young kids. They live in Houston and we know the cost of living here is expensive.”

One of the challenges for Steele will be adjusting to the baseball collegiate system, but Buckley would not have hired him if he knew he would not be up to the task.

“The learning curve for him is just doing the college life,” Buckley said. “The recruiting, the paperwork, the NCAA. The college game is different from the pro game; you micromanage it more.”

It’s no secret college players want to make it to the MLB level. However, Steele said it is not his concern or responsibility to prepare pitchers for the next level. His job is to win at LBSU.

“Number one, that’s not my goal and really at the end of the day, that’s not my job,” Steele said. “My job is to get these kids to buy into something bigger than themselves and give their best effort every time out.”

LBSU is betting on Buckley and Steele’s philosophy in hopes of turning this season into a championship endeavor.

“When you put them into that sort of framework with the baseball knowledge that the coaching staff has and then the tradition that comes along, that’s how you start brewing a good melting pot so that guys can start forming themselves,” Steele said.

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