Minnesota senior Jeremy Chlan has played second base for the Golden Gophers throughout his four-year career. Chlan was involved in one of the biggest plays of the year last season when he had the game-winning double in the Big Ten Tournament against Penn State to drive home Tom Steidl to send Minnesota to the Big Ten Championship. Inside Pitch sat down with Chlan to talk about some of his favorite memories as a Golden Gopher, and what it takes to help the team be successful as a senior leader. Inside Pitch: Talk about the journey you have had throughout your time in the program, from playing right away as a freshman to being a leader as a senior?
Jeremy Chlan: “When I was a freshman I did not really know much about Division I baseball, and what it took to win. When you have people around you who are older and more experienced you watch them, get info from coaches and those players on what it takes to win at this level. As a senior, I am able to do some of the same things for the younger guys on our team now. As I have gone along, I have learned a lot about the game. I have become a different person than I was a freshman. When you sit behind other players and watch them, you can definitely learn to play the game the right way.
“When I was a freshman and sophomore I watched Matt Fornasiere and Luke MacLean, and learned from them, about what to do in certain situations. As of right now, I am helping, AJ (Pettersen), Drew (Hanish) and Kyle (Geason) in the same way those older players helped me progress when I came into the program. Hopefully, helping those younger players will continue that chain to three or four years down the line and they can play the same role for others.” IP: You played right away in this program, talk about the difference in mentality when you are doing well or struggling as freshman compared how you handle it now as a senior?
JC: “When you are younger you have your struggles, because you don’t really know what you are doing wrong and what you are doing right. When you get older, you learn how to mentally approach the game better. Now I know that I have so many at-bats in a season, and that it is important to stay clam and let things come to you. As an older player, you have more of a sense of who you are, what your game is, how your swing is when you are hitting well and what you need to fix if you are in a slump. You have a mental plan, you are able to stick with it, and if you don’t have a good at-bat you wait for the next one.” IP: Talk about the leadership you have tried to provide as a senior this year?
JC: “My perspective of being a leader is I am not really that outspoken, so I want to play the game hard and the right way, and lead by example as a visual leader. I am not going to speak out much. To me, playing the game, visually showing guys how to play the right way and how to play it hard will influence other guys. I just want to make sure I am setting a good example for how you should play in this program.” IP: You have had the benefit of coming in as a freshman, playing at second base and staying at that same spot throughout your career. Talk about how much that helps you?
JC: “In high school I was a shortstop. In that position you obviously need to be able to have good range. When I moved to second base, the main thing I needed to do was to make adjustments to slow down my actions because there is more time to make plays at second base. The footwork is similar, except on double plays and throwing from certain angles. The coaches did a good job working with me when I got here, and now my instincts take over when I make a play at second base.” IP: Talk about the pride you have in your defense, and some of the game-changing plays you have made in the field since you have been in this program?
JC: “Defense wins games. In close games, that one error always seems to make a difference in a win or a loss. I hold myself to a high standard when it comes to having good defense and making the right plays. I like to show I can back up the pitcher when he needs a big defensive play. Defense is a big part of my game.” IP: Talk about some of the highlights of your career, including the game winning hit against Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament last year, and the big game you had against Ohio State at the end of last season?
JC: “Those games were a lot of fun. Another highlight for me came when I was a freshman and had four hits and five RBI in a game against Northwestern. I think the game-winning hit against Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament, and the game last year against Ohio State where I had three hits and a couple big defensive plays were the most exciting individual performances of my career here at Minnesota. Those are pretty good memories, but every game counts. I like those memories, however I just want to be calm, be ready to play and approach every day the same no matter how big people think the game is. You have to be ready to make big plays no matter what the situation or time of year.” IP: How have you grown as a person off the field since you have been in this program?
JC: “I have become more independent, because when you go off to college you rely on yourself to get things done. You learn from the coaches and older players how to manage your schedule the right way and be on time to different events. Everything is your own responsibility, from going to practices, to getting your homework done, to studying for a test, getting good sleep and eating good, because you are by yourself and can’t rely on your parents like in high school. I think my time in this program has made me a more independent person.”
IP: What have some of the top highlights team-wise been since you have been in this program?
JC: “There are quite a few games since I have been here that have been exciting. I think my freshman year the most exciting game was Joe Maciej’s walk off home run against Ohio State. I think last year, there were a lot of exciting games that we won at the end, including the Penn State game that put us in the championship game. I think the NCAA Regional game we won against San Diego in the 10th inning last year was really exciting as well. All those close games and being with my teammates has been a great experience.” IP: How do you want to be remembered as a player in this program?
JC: “I want people to remember me as a person who works really hard at the game, and respects it. I want people to remember that I showed 100 percent on the field all the time, and never let up on any play. I want to be known as a player who is there to play the game the right way and would do anything for my teammates.”