July 16, 2012
Gopher connections Dan Olinger and Tom Windle have been playing summer ball in the Cape Cod League with the Brewster Whitecaps. Both playing in the Northwoods League last summer, the two have played with the Whitecaps since mid June and continue to do well with their respective team. Olinger is currently hitting .313 with the Whitecaps and has played in 22 games and 67 at bats. Ranking third on the team in RBI (11), Olinger has been playing third base. Windle holds Brewster's best ERA this summer. Standing at 1.66, Windle has pitched 21.2 innings in four starts, allowing just four earned runs. He currently stands at 3-1 this summer and has struck out 29 batters. Here's a short Q and A with the duo as they continue play.
How has your experience been so far with the Brewster Whitecaps?
Dan Olinger: So far my experience with the Whitecaps has been unbelievable. I was set up with an amazing host family that has had Minnesota Gophers before (Austin (Lubinsky) stayed with them and they said that Billy (Soule) spent a fair amount of time at their house eating their Hot Pockets). Their names are Rich and Jen Kish and they don't have any kids. They make sure they spoil me and my two roommates on a daily basis. A couple nights ago Rich brought home fresh lobster and we had a lobster feast. We have also gone out fishing for Striped Bass on one of his friend's boats, catching 35-40 inch Stripers and we are planning another trip soon.
Tom Windle: My experience has been great. The Brewster community is very supportive of the team as we moved in from all parts of the country to live with host families. I live with a great family that I enjoy being around when I am not at the ballpark. They have taken care of everything my roommate Derek Campbell (Cal Berkeley) and I need. The team is starting to gel now as we have reached the half way point and the roster is set. We have been learning from each other how to be better baseball players while showcasing our ability and having fun. The coaching staff is great and has created a positive summer experience.
You're nearing the halfway point of the summer league season. How would you assess, both individually and the team's play so far this year? DO:
The team is a great group of guys, who definitely like to have fun and enjoy the game of baseball. Even though each player is personally trying to excel and showcase their talents out here, there is still a pretty strong team bond. It's amazing that players from all over the country can come together and over the course of a couple of weeks, develop a strong chemistry. So far this season our team has had its ups and downs. We are about .500 on the year, but I think we are ready to take it up a notch. Our pitching staff is awesome, and Tommy has been pitching unbelievable so far. Every time he's on the mound he has dominated so far. Personally, there has been an adjustment period for me. I am starting to hit the ball better, but in the field I'm still getting used to third base again and playing on real grass and dirt fields (Theres no place like dome).TW:
Our division has five teams and four make the playoffs. We are a game out of fourth place at the moment, but have been playing well. The roster has so much talent for both the pitchers and hitters, so we know things will turn. The run support has been great and we have been putting more zeros up against the opposing batters lately. It has been great watching Danny Olinger swing so well too. I have been feeling very strong as the season moves forward. I have felt comfortable throwing strikes and getting ahead of batters which I feel is a key to success.
You recently worked out at Fenway. How was it to have that experience and now say that you've played at two MLB ballparks?
DO: Recently we got to go to Fenway to do a workout for some scouts. It was an amazing and surreal experience. Knowing that I took batting practice and ground balls on the same field as some of the best players to ever play the game is a dream come true. I tried my hardest to hit one over the Green Monster, but I guess I'm going to have to work with Coach Quinlan on my opposite field power because I wasn't even close.
TW: Baseball has allowed me to have a lot of opportunities and going to work out at Fenway at this part of my career is pretty cool. It was funny watching all the batters swinging to hit one over the Green Monster. I was just standing in the outfield taking in everything with some of the guys, while occasionally catching a high fly. Fenway, like any other Major League park, is perfect.
You've now played in both the Northwoods League and the Cape Cod League. What have been the similarities and the differences between the two?
DO: The Northwoods League and Cape Cod differ in many ways. The atmosphere of the Northwoods is a lot of fun, with the in-between innings promotions and such. The fields are set up for the spectator as well, often with party decks and mascots. The Cape doesn't quite have that same atmosphere. We play on high school fields for the most part, rarely are there grandstands, however lots of people still show up with their folding chairs and blankets and line the field. The competition out here is a little more consistent than what I remember from the Northwoods. It seems like every night I'm facing a pitcher who is throwing low 90's and commands 2-3 pitches. All and all, both experiences have been spectacular for me.
TW: The Cape Cod League is different than the Northwoods League, mostly because of the travel. Everything is very close in the Cape as some ballparks are as close as 10 minutes away. In the Northwoods they may be hours apart.
The Cape Cod League has been around for many years and has a pretty rich tradition. What will you be able to take away from your experience once you're done there?
DO: Summer ball is an amazing experience. So far my summer ball has taking me from Wisconsin Rapids, WI, to Dodge City, KS, to Brainerd and now to Brewster, MA. The Cape is definitely an experience that I will never forget. It seems like everybody in town knows who you are and where you go to school. An example of this, I called up a bat manufacturer in Barnstable which is about 20 minutes from where I live. I told them who I was and that I was looking for a couple of bats to buy for the rest of the summer. He immediately replied with my batting average, where I went to school, and how I had hit the previous night. Baseball means a ton to the people out here and they take pride in the fact that the Cape is known as one of the elite baseball destinations in the world. People are quick to bring up all the great players that have played out here before. It's easy to have fun in a place so full of rich baseball tradition!
TW: I will be able to take away an awesome experience from the opportunity to play for the Whitecaps. Playing baseball everyday will help my advancement. It will be great to share this memory with my family as they travel to see the baseball talent out here. It is a great experience to be able to represent the Gophers and Big Ten in this league.