Dan Scott Interview: Stan Widmann

by - Correspondent -

Dan Scott of 104.9 FM, The Drive, spoke with Clemson shortstop Stan Widmann for an interview which aired on Cruise Control Monday morning. The transcript of the interview follows:

DS: Well, of all the people who are excited about the 2008 baseball season getting underway, I can?t imagine anybody that?s more excited than Stan Widmann, who is joining us now. After last year, I would say you are very much looking forward to getting back out on the field here in 2008, aren?t you?

SW: Oh yeah. You can almost say there are butterflies, but I think that?s a little of an understatement. I?m just overwhelmed with joy and a bunch of support from the fans and all my teammates just being by me 100% the whole way in the fall. And even last year, it was just great. It was almost pretty easy getting back with all the support I had. So, I have to give all the credit to the fans, my teammates and my coaches.

DS: The neck injury obviously ended up being a lot more serious than first thought. Was there a point in time last year when maybe you thought you?d never play baseball again?

SW: I never let that thought leak into my head. I was going to deal with it, cross that bridge when it came. I tried to leave that thought out and prepare myself to play this season and hope everything worked out the way it did. And it did, so I?m playing this season. I just kind of had the mindset that I was going to play until someone from a higher authority told me I was not going to be able to play.

DS: Of that entire process, from the time after six games through the surgery and recovery, what was the most difficult part of it for you?

SW: Watching baseball. I mean if I?m playing and watching, it?s just different. But as I?m unable to play and watch it, it?s kind of difficult, but it was pretty easy just being good friends with all the guys on the team and seeing everybody being successful and going up to the Super Regionals and playing. It was a good experience, and like I said in other interviews, just have more respect for the guys that don?t get the chance to play everyday and still go out and practice the way you?re suppose to practice. So I have a respect for the game and those guys.

DS: What did you learn about yourself during the time that, I say away from the game, once you got out of the hospital I know you were in the dugout as often as you could be so you were still around it, but unable to play. Did you learn anything about yourself during your time away?

SW: I really learned how much I loved the game. It could?ve been real easy for me to just hang them up and say that?s it, I?ll just enjoy watching. But I took it to a different level and tried to stay mentally sharp watching every play, and doing things and trying to learn situations and different situations going through my mind. And I guess, enjoy life more and having more fun on the field; not getting so irritated when I do something wrong or make an error; not getting so down on myself and just shake it off and get the next one.

DS: Did you ever get a final count on the number of cards, letters and emails you got from the time you went into the hospital through your recovery?

SW: It was a lot. It was great. I read every single one. I wish I could say thanks to everybody with a personal letter, but I would be doing that for several days. I would like to take a moment and tell everybody, like I did on the radio when I talked with y?all during the season, I appreciate what everybody?s done. The care page and letters in the mail and stuff like that, it really helped out.

DS: As this new season?s getting underway, I know when fall practice rolled around from talking to Jack, you kind of just started slowly trying to work your way back into it, and now we?re sitting here a week away as spring practice has kind of moved on, what?s been the difficult part for you to get back? Your timing? Getting your legs under you? Has it been a combination of things? What?s been the most difficult thing right now?

SW: I can?t really say there?s a difficult thing because I?m actually lucky to be at the position I am right now. When we first went into this thing, I was expected to be just slowly getting into it for now. But now, I?m pretty much like I was before the season started last year and everything?s going great and my timing?s pretty much there. I?m making good swings on balls in intrasquads and stuff like that. So I really have no question in my mind. And I?m sure the coaches feel the same way about the way I?m going to be able to play in the springtime come next Friday.

DS: And I guess added on top of everything else you?ve been through, you?re coming back into a team that?s had a tremendous amount of turnover and now suddenly you?re now one of the older guys around here; you?re not only back and trying to get that going, now people are going to be looking to you for leadership. How are you going to handle that role?

SW: I?ve been kind of taking a leadership role I guess since my freshman year. I came in trying to get things straight, letting everyone know I?m serious and I want to win and I think everybody still knows that. That?s my goal. And I expect the young guys to come up there and start contributing and be leaders on the team, just like I did and I am now. So, it?s not just a one-man show. Everybody?s got to do their part and everybody?s got to have some leadership qualities.

DS: Through the first three weeks of practice, here we are again a week out of Opening Day, what have you seen out of this team so far? I know the games will ultimately tell the tale, but what have you seen out of this club so far? How good can this team be, Stan?

SW: We can be outstanding. We have a very good chance to go to Omaha. All the young guys are playing extremely well and everybody?s pretty consistent and that?s what we need. The pitching staff is going to be very deep and it?s going to be an exciting season. I?m looking forward to it.

DS: So in order for that to happen, what has to happen? What are some of the keys to a successful season for you guys?

SW: Playing hard everyday. Hustling and I guess out-performing the other team. That?s basically it and that?s what we?re going to do. Stick to the game plans and going from day-to-day, not letting one game affect another. That?s how we?re going to approach it.

DS: You ready to get out there and get that first mouthful of dirt?

SW: Oh yeah. I?ve already got a couple. I got a scrape on my chin from it too. But I?m excited and every time I dive Herman Demmink?s out there doing some grounders and stuff with us and every time I dive, if it?s early in the morning and there?s still some dew on the ground, I dive in the grass, I slide and come back to him and give him a high-five and I?m like, ?That was great! I love this!? And if I come up empty, it?s win or lose and it doesn?t matter, so I?m just glad to dive again.

DS: Well I know I speak for an awful lot of people when I say it?s great to see you back in uniform, ready to play again and most of all, good to see you back healthy again. Good luck in 2008 to you, Stan.

SW: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

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