Interview with Andrew Albers, former Kentucky Baseball player


Andrew Albers recently joined Wildcat Blue Nation for an interview.

Daniel Solzman:  Thanks for joining Wildcat Blue Nation today. How are things treating you in New Britain?

Andrew Albers:  Things have been going well in New Britain so far this year. Unfortunately, I reinjured my back a couple of weeks ago and have been sent down to Fort Myers to rehab for a little bit.  But I am hoping to be back up to New Britain in a couple of weeks.

Daniel Solzman:  You were drafted out of high school by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2004 but decided to go to Kentucky. How tough of a decision was that?

Andrew Albers:  The draft in 2004 was an interesting process.  I certainly learned a lot from it.  I was surprised when I was taken as highly as the 12th round out of high school because I had pretty much told scouts that I was probably going to college.  However, when I was drafted that high, I had to reevaluate my decision.  It changed a few things but in the end, I felt like I was not ready for professional baseball and that college was the right decision for me.  I thought it would give me a chance to mature and improve as a baseball player.

Daniel Solzman:  In 2006, you played for a Kentucky team that won the SEC tournament and went to the NCAA Regionals. Can you talk about what that season means to you?

Andrew Albers:  I think 2006 was a special season for everyone involved.  It was the first time Kentucky had ever won the SEC regular season as well as gotten to host a regional.  It was great to go through that but I think what made that season so special was the group of guys that we had on that team that year.  It was a special group and it was a lot of fun to play with all those guys.  The team chemistry was outstanding and it showed in the way we played together.  The guys on that team just made it a lot of fun to go to the ballpark everyday and when you play as many games as you do in a baseball season, that is important.

Daniel Solzman:  How did former Kentucky coach John Cohen prepare you for the next level and what teachings stick with you today?

Andrew Albers:  Coach Cohen was instrumental in my time at Kentucky.  Although he focused more on the hitters, and let Coach Henderson take care of our pitching staff, I still learned a lot from him just from a hitter’s standpoint.  I learned what hitters’ are thinking in certain situations and it allowed me to become a better pitcher.

Daniel Solzman:  You sat out 2009 after Tommy John surgery. What was the whole rehab process like?

Andrew Albers:  2009 was a tough year for me.  I had Tommy John surgery in April and had a tough go of it in rehab.  I actually had to go in for a second surgery to remove some scar tissue at about 4 1/2 months because I was not able to get my range of motion back.  That time was a learning experience for me.  It allowed me to really appreciate being able to play baseball again and not to take it for granted.  It was different being on the other side of the game and not being able to play, that experience gave me the chance to really learn what mental toughness is all about and to just continue to persevere no matter what the obstacles are.

Daniel Solzman:  How much of a role did current UK coach Gary Henderson play in your signing with the Twins minor league system.

Andrew Albers:  Coach Henderson is really the only reason I’m still playing professional baseball.  It was him who persuaded a couple of area scouts from the Twins (Earl Winn and Tim O’Neil) to come out and watch me throw in a little bit of a tryout.  They liked me enough to give me the opportunity to go to spring training with the Twins and try to earn a job coming out of spring training.  In addition, Coach Henderson was instrumental in me improving in my time at Kentucky.  He was a phenomenal coach to play for and I really enjoyed the time that I was able to be around him and learn about the game.  In my opinion, he is one of the best coaches in the nation at any level of baseball.

Daniel Solzman:  The New Britain pitching staff features another UK alumnus in Logan Darnell.  Do you two often talk about your playing days at Kentucky or even this season’s team?

Andrew Albers:  It’s funny because Logan and I actually talk about the team and our days spent at UK.  I think we take a lot of pride in having gone there and being a part of the UK baseball family.  This year’s team was very exciting to follow for obvious reasons, having started 22-0 and then being #1 in the country for the first time in school history, it was a special season.  Coach Henderson and those guys should be really proud of their accomplishments.  Even though the season didn’t turn out quite how they would have liked, it was a great season and a lot of fun to follow those guys.

Daniel Solzman:  Has New Britain pitching coach Stu Cliburn helped with your mechanics this season?

Andrew Albers:  Stu is a good pitching coach because he knows when to address mechanical issues and when not to.  He does a great job of keeping you loose and getting you ready to go out and compete when it’s time to pitch.  He’s a fun guy to be around and keeps the clubhouse nice and loose.

Daniel Solzman:  What’s a typical day like during the season?

Andrew Albers:  A typical day during the season is pretty standard.  Personally, I like to wake up a little later (around 10:30 or 11am) so I feel good come game time.  Then if you have weights that day, go to the gym in the morning.  If not, we usually report to the field around 3pm.  Then it’s time to go to work.  Stretch, throw do your arm care exercises, shag for bp, then game time is usually around 6:30 or 7pm.  After the game you eat and go back and hang out before bed.  That’s usually about it.

Daniel Solzman:  Did you get to do anything exciting during the offseason?

Andrew Albers:  Well I was fortunate enough to be invited to play for team Canada this offseason in the baseball world cup and the Pan Am games.  That was a lot of fun and a really great experience getting to play for my country.

Daniel Solzman:  What was it like to win the Gold Medal for the Canadian team during the 2011 Pan American Games and what does it mean to be named as an inductee of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame?

Andrew Albers:  The gold medal at the Pan Am game was the highlight of my baseball career so far.  It was a special night.  Getting the chance to start that game, and beating team USA 2-1 to win was phenomenal.  It was so exciting to be a part of that group.  We had a great group of guys on that team and we really came together in a short period of time.  It was a lot of fun and then to top it off with the gold medal in the Pan Am games, it was the ultimate ending to that group.  In the summer we were inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and it is a tremendous honor to have been inducted and to have been a part of Canadian baseball history.

Daniel Solzman:  Thanks again for joining us. Any final words for Wildcat Blue Nation?

Andrew Albers:  My pleasure Daniel, I just want to thank all the fans back there for following the Cats and for all of their support throughout the years.  It means a lot to all of us that have played there.  Lexington was a great place to play and I had a tremendous experience playing baseball there.  I would like to thank the fans and everyone back in Lexington for helping make my college experience so special.  Take care, and GO BIG BLUE!!!