May 14, 2013
Dan Olinger has been the Golden Gophers' starting first baseman a majority of the year. Splitting time between first base and third as a sophomore, Olinger has played first in 42 games this season. Last summer, Olinger played with the Brewster Whitecaps in the Cape Cod league, his first experience. The Great Falls, Mont., native has 22 RBI in 154 at bats, while posting 23 hits, eight doubles and a triple this season. Here's a short question and answer session with "Olie the Goalie".
Q: Tell me about your recruitment process, how does a Montana boy end up in Minnesota?
A: My mom as corny as that sounds. I had a pretty good junior year of Legion ball and I wanted to send out some letters to colleges. I was born in Minnesota, so I already had a connection to the area and I had always wanted to play for the U growing up. When it came time to pick schools to send a letter to, I thought there was no chance I would be able to get recruited so late in the process to such a great school. My mom made me send the letter though (like most great moms do) and it just so happened that a big recruit had signed somewhere else and the Gophers were looking for another left handed hitter. Thanks Mom!
Q: What was your experience like playing in the Cape Cod league for the Brewster White Caps?
A: I had an unbelievable experience in the Cape. I lived with a great host family, which is half the battle in summer ball, and really got to enjoy my time out there. It's great because you get to play the best college baseball players in America every night, it's a challenge that I loved.
Q: How do you feel it helped your game?
A: When you are playing with the best, it forces you to improve your game to keep up. So, that alone has really helped my game here playing for Golden Gopher baseball.
Q: Last year you played a lot of positions out on the field, but this year you have been more stationed at first, how has that adjustment been?
A: It's been great. Last year was tough because we had a lot of injuries and I had to move around a little more just to fill some holes. I love playing third base but Abe (Ryan Abrahamson) had done such an awesome job over there this year and Mark Tatera too. First base is a position that we needed filled and I'm doing my best to be a dependable first baseman for my teammates.
Q: You were a hockey player in high school, what made you want to focus on baseball for college?
A: One of the tougher decisions I have ever made was trying to decide what to do in college. I love both sports very much and I still get out on the ice whenever I can. It really came down to this unbelievable opportunity I got to play baseball at the University of Minnesota. Who could turn that down? I'm getting a great education while getting to play baseball with one of the best programs in the country.
Q: It is easy to notice how "interactive" you are out on first when it comes to talking to other players and trying to distract them, what is the reason behind that strategy?
A: Well, it probably isn't so much a strategy as it is my social nature. Baseball is a great game that can be fiercely competitive and intense at times. But the downtime in the game allows for a little bit of relaxed conversation. Coach Fornasiere and Coach Anderson probably do not approve of how much I chat with the opposing team and the umpires, but it is all part of my game. Sometimes you can get little tips of what might be happening on a certain play. For instance if I am talking to a runner on first and all of a sudden he stops talking, it's a pretty good indicator that some sort of play is on.
Q: What are you looking forward the most about going to play in Alaska this summer?
A: My sister lives up in Alaska, and I am living with her while I am playing up there. I am extremely excited about getting to spend some time with her. Also the league is just another place I get to see on this amazing journey I have had playing college baseball.
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Gophers welcome fans to six open scrimmage dates
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Minor League Wrap-Up: Sept. 15
University of Minnesota alumni concluded their minor league seasons this week with several cracking postseason play.