Dave Serrano shows high-energy approach at first spring baseball practice

New UT baseball coach 'on you 24-7'

The voice carried easily from right field all the way to the visitors' dugout, but Dave Serrano didn't really need to be heard for his message to be clear.

From the first drill of his first spring practice, it was quite obvious how the new Tennessee baseball coach intends on rebuilding the program.

There were sprints across the outfield with Serrano lofting balls during conditioning. On the infield, baserunners were turning up the aggression and the speed to make sure the Vols won't miss chances to move up a base. Then they cranked up the intensity even more with some work that kept non-stop pressure on both the offense and the defense.

Dave Serrano on first day of practice for Vols baseball

And that was just a taste for the Vols before they scrimmaged on Friday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium as Serrano got to work establishing an up-tempo approach three weeks shy of his official debut.

"Hopefully the team is as energized and excited as the coaching staff is to start our journey into the future here," Serrano said. "For this coaching staff, the thing that we want them to get used to is the expectation of where we want to be as a program every day, not just when we feel good.

"We come out every day to achieve the highest accolades, whether it's practice or game, whether we're out-manned or not, we want to reach for the sky. That's what I think is the biggest mind-set that we've got to change is that lately the expectations haven't been as high. Sometimes that intimidates people."

If the Vols were afraid of that challenge, they weren't showing it as they took the field for a workout that consistently kept them in motion.

Decked out in an orange windbreaker, black shorts and UT's new orange-billed, black cap, Serrano helped get the wheels moving by personally throwing deep balls in an early conditioning drill that seemed to be as much a test of the athleticism of his pitchers as a showcase for his arm.

And the Vols didn't slow down any after that.

"(Serrano) is on you 24-7, the whole entire practice," senior catcher Wes Walker said. "I mean, it's not for the bad. Everything he does is a positive for you. All the coaches bring a good mentality to this team, and I think it creates a lot of competition with guys working for jobs.

"As far as this year, I don't really know where it's going to go. I can just tell that this team is working a lot harder than we have in the past."

Considering the recent results and UT's four-year drought without a postseason appearance, a change in approach certainly comes as no surprise.

There's obviously plenty more to be done before the Vols might see any results with the opener against Northern Illinois on Feb. 17 still weeks away, and even then Serrano has carefully avoided any predictions about the number of wins his first season might produce. But he's not shown much reluctance to remind anybody about UT's absences from the SEC tournament lately, and the effort to get the program back there is clearly under way now.

"I think we're still going through a little bit of a learning curve in terms of understanding what our expectations are for each and every guy and as a team," Serrano said. "We want to be prepared and ready (for the opener), but they won't be quite as much into the system early on in the season. I'm hoping people will see a team developing as the season goes — climb each and every day.

"We want to be good, we expect to be good and we can never be good fast enough."

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 6

NewMarketVol writes:

Go gettem coach we need a winner!!

wazzya69vol writes:

Thank you Coach Serrano for coming out for our ALS Walk this past Fall. At that time some people might not have recognized you but I sure did. Best of luck this season. You probably won't see this post but just wanted you to know your presence didn't go unnoticed. GBO, VFL, Wazzy

arkyvol writes:

i predict a sea change in the baseball vols, starting this season.

VOLet_parking writes:

Coach Serrano is a first class coach. I got the privilege of attending the CWS with my dad a few times, and CDS was the coach of Cal St Fullerton. This a great hire, and the next decade should be very promising for the Vols!

THEKIDWISCONSIN writes:

Great piece. Nice to see the KNS put a vet reporter like Austin in there right away!

Yes, I think we as BaseVOLS fans can expect a big turnaround from the last three years.

And the reason CDS is a great hire...he was a non-Hamilton hire!

GO BaseVOLS!

shoalcreekvol writes:

This is what happens when you hire proven, prepared coaches. The fans are equally prepared to support them through the inevitable ups and downs of implementing a new system, b/c they have reason to believe it's a reliable system that (based on history) will produce results.

Keep hiring guys like this for all of our programs. Good job to the committee, and welcome back Coach.

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