Baseball Long Beach State

Hot Topics With New Dirtbags Coach Eric Valenzuela

Long Beach State announced yesterday that Eric Valenzuela will be the next coach of the Dirtbags baseball program.

We talked to Valenzuela about the biggest issues he’ll deal with in his first year…

Valenzuela on keeping the Dirtbags style…

“I’m from the San Gabriel Valley, and I coached for USD in the NCAA Regional at Blair Field in 2008, so I know what it means to be a Dirtbag. Obviously I didn’t play here, but I know it’s about how you play with style, grit and toughness. I feel like I’m a good fit for that. I know a lot of the former players, and legendary coaches… I’m just blessed to try and take this program to an even higher level. I’m not coming in to change everything. I love that Dirtbags style. That’s the type of player I was, and that’s the type of person I am. So I take a lot of pride in working hard and grinding. That’s definitely going to continue.”

On hiring assistant coaches…

“We’re still in the process of doing that. It’s obviously a different system with a State school. But I’m going to bring the best guys in I possibly can, that’s for sure. LBSU attracts everybody, and I had a great staff at St. Mary’s, but I’m going to make sure that our players get the right teachers to help them develop on and off the field.”

On recruiting…

“I’ve done some research on the current roster, and that’s where it begins. It’s about the type of team we have now and how we can build on that. It’s going to take some time. Obviously we’re going to go out and recruit our butts off right now to get the best possible players we can that are going to fit the mold and culture we’re going to bring to the table. Growing up in Southern California, coaching in San Diego for 10 years, then the last six at St. Mary’s, I feel like I understand (California) and how much talent is really here. At Long Beach State you can get the best players in the country, and compete against anyone in California and the west coast.”

On rebuilding the program…

“Honestly, I want to start young to build the culture, sprinkle in some junior college players to fill some spots, and utilize the players we have now. There’s really good players in the program right now. I’m excited to meet them, help them develop, and go from there.”

On scheduling…

“It depends on the type of team you have. Scheduling is very tough because you really have to strategize with what you have in your upcoming classes. There may be some years where we’re a little bit young, so maybe we play some more home games. The parity of college baseball, so I can’t say it’s a lighter schedule. But when we’re older with depth on the mound we’re going to shoot for the stars and get after it. We’re always going to be shooting for an RPI that could get us an at-large bit out of the Big West Conference.”

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.
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