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LSU hires Alan Dunn as new pitching coach

Alan Dunn takes over as LSU pitching coach.Alan Dunn takes over as LSU pitching coach.

Paul Mainieri moved quickly to replace the departing David Grewe as his pitching coach at LSU.

SportsNola.com has learned that Mainieri has turned to Baltimore Orioles bullpen coach Alan Dunn to take the place of Grewe on his staff.

The move was made official during press conference in the Champions' Club at Alex Box Stadium on Friday.

Dunn has spent most of his coaching career at the professional level. He has some exposure to the SEC, starting as a college assistant coach at Vanderbilt from 1990 through 1993 and has been coaching professionally ever since.

He coached for 15 years in the Chicago Cubs organization, starting in 1993 and working through 2007, when he was hired by the Orioles and Baltimore Manager Dave Trembley, whom Dunn had worked with in the Cubs' organization.

As a player, Dunn also gained experience in the SEC at Alabama, where he played for the Crimson Tide team which reached the national championship game in 1983. He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers and played two seasons in their organization, pitching at Lakeland and Birmingham.

Dunn's work with the Cubs likely spawned the connection to LSU. Mainieri is very close friends with Chicago Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry, who has worked for the Cubs since 1995 and served as the team's General Manager since 2002.

Grewe resigned his position a week ago Tuesday, just one day after LSU was denied an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, to pursue other opportunities though it was likely a mutual agreement for him to depart following two disappointing seasons following a national championship in 2009.

Alan Dunn Bio (via Baltimore Orioles):

Description: Photo of Alan DunnDescription: bal

COACHING CAREER

Alan joined the Orioles as bullpen coach on August 25, 2007 and begins his third full season on a major league staff...He was in his 15th season in the Chicago Cubs organization and his first as minor league pitching coordinator when he was named bullpen coach by Manager Dave Trembley, with whom he had worked in the Cubs organization from 1994-2002...Dunn served as pitching coach at every level from Class A to AAA over the previous 14 years in the Cubs farm system...He joined the Cubs in 1993 as a scout and coach at Geneva, then moved on to other Class A teams at Peoria (1994), Rockford (1995-96) and Daytona (1997)... He served as pitching coach at AA West Tennessee from 1998 through 2005 - with Trembley serving as manager there in '98 and '99...At West Tenn, his pitching staffs finished first or second in the Southern League in ERA three times and he coached three different league ERA champs...In 2006, he coached at AAA Iowa.

PLAYING CAREER

Pitched professionally for two years in the Detroit Tigers farm system...Was the Tigers' 4th round pick (95th player overall) in the 1983 draft out of the University of Alabama, where he played for the Tides' NCAA College World Series runner-up team...Spent a season and a half at Class A Lakeland before moving to AA Birmingham...Was 5-12 with a 5.41 ERA in 31 games over the two seasons...Was released from the Tigers' minor league camp in 1985 after injuring his arm...Signed with the New York Mets and went to extended spring training but was released again after re-injuring his arm.

PERSONAL/MISCELLANEOUS

Married, wife's name is Jay...They have two children, a son, Davis, and a daughter, Bailey...Worked in private business for five years before returning to baseball in 1990 as an assistant coach at Vanderbilt University, a position he held until joining the Cubs in 1993

---

LSU coach Paul Mainieri introduced Alan Dunn as the Tigers’ new pitching coach Friday in Alex Box Stadium. Below are comments from the press conference from Mainieri and Dunn:

LSU HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI

Opening statement…

“Welcome everyone. It’s good to see you all. The last time we were together wasn’t a very happy day, and today is a much happier day. In using baseball language, typically when something happens like today I would say we hit a grand slam, but being it’s a pitching guy I’m going to say we got a big double play with the bases loaded today. I feel great about the person that we are putting onto our staff. Alan Dunn has had a long and distinguished career in professional baseball as well as a player in college baseball. Alan grew up in Alabama, went to the University of Alabama and was an outstanding pitcher for the Crimson Tide. He was the key pitcher on their team back in 1983 when they were the national runners-up and lost the national championship game and had a tremendous team under head coach Barry Shollenberger. He was then a fourth-round draft choice of the Detroit Tigers and signed with them professionally. Unfortunately, he suffered some arm injuries during his career in professional baseball, so his career was shortened.

“He went back to his home state where he began some private work. If you want to ask him about that, you can. I think it had to do with sporting goods. Then, he told me the story of how he connected with the coach at Vanderbilt University, Roy Mewbourne, and Roy hired him as his pitching coach where he stayed on the Vanderbilt staff for two years. At the end of his tenure, he was approached by the Chicago Cubs, who offered him a job as a scout, which he took. At the conclusion of the amateur draft in June, he then began his pitching coach career in professional baseball. They had him go coach Geneva in the New York Penn League. At the end of that summer they gave him a choice -- do you want to stay in scouting or in player development? For Alan, that was a very easy choice. As we’ve talked about, he’s a teacher at heart and wants to be on the field with the players. That began a very long and distinguished career as a pitching coach. Much like players do, he worked his way up the ladder. He started as an ‘A’ ball pitching coach and moved into Double ‘A’ where I think he stayed seven years. If you talk to anyone in an administrative position in professional baseball, they will tell you that Double ‘A’ is the key level. ‘A’ ball kids are just entering professional ball. At Triple ‘A’, you have kids coming down and players going up, but Double ‘A’ is really where the tire meets the road so to speak. That’s where they really formulate themselves as major league pitchers or not as major league pitchers. Alan spent seven years in Double ‘A’ working for the Cubs. He then evolved into the Triple ‘A’ pitching coach where he did work with Mike Quade, the current manager of the Chicago Cubs and a former teammate of mine at the University of New Orleans. After one year, he was then named the pitching coordinator for all of the Chicago Cubs system, which is a pretty significant position obviously. You’re now the pitching coach over all the pitching coaches as well as all of the pitchers in the organization as opposed to one group of 15 guys.

“He was doing well in that position when Dave Trembley was then named the manager of the Baltimore Orioles. Dave Trembley was the manager in the Cubs organization in Double ‘A’ for several of those years when Alan was the pitching coach. Dave approached the president of the Baltimore Orioles and said he wanted Alan Dunn to come join his staff in the big leagues with the Baltimore Orioles, which he did as the bullpen coach. Unfortunately, Dave Trembley was let go as the manager of the Orioles. Buck Showalter was hired and insisted upon his own staff, so the entire staff of the Orioles were let go, but the president of the Baltimore Orioles, Andy MacPhail, thought so much of Alan that he made him the coordinating of pitching for Baltimore, the same position that he had previously held with the Chicago Cubs. That was the current position he was in when I approached him about the possibility of coming to LSU.

“This year was obviously a very difficult year for us, and it did not meet our standards that we have here at LSU. There were so many changes in college baseball in the last couple of years, in particular this past year with the change in bats, that the nature of the game of college baseball I think has changed forever. You’re not going to stock up on players like you once did because of the roster limitations, and with the new bats, it’s obvious it has become a pitching game in college baseball. If you look at the SEC and you see the three elite teams in the Eastern Division in 2011 -- South Carolina, Florida and Vanderbilt -- the one common denominator of those three teams is they all have earned run averages of three or less. Most of the year, they were less than three runs a game. If you look at Arkansas, who won the Western Division, they didn’t have a great offensive team this year, but they had a tremendous pitching staff. I think their team earned run average was a 3.10. If you look at the No. 1 team in the country, Virginia, they have an earned run average under three. If you look at Texas and some of the other powers, you can see that college baseball has become a pitching-dominated sport, and I can see that continuing to happen in the future. We currently have some tremendous arms. We had an all-freshman rotation this year, which is highly unusual in the SEC and at LSU. Kevin Gausman, Kurt McCune and Ryan Eades give us three great, young arms. We also have some other young arms in our rotation that I believe have a chance to develop into outstanding pitchers also, power arms as well as crafty pitchers. We also have a very good recruiting class coming in if we can hold on to them during the course of this summer, which of course is always a question, but when you look at kids like Aaron Nola and Cody Glenn and some of the others, you’re talking about some really big-time major league prospects.

“When we made the decision that there was going to be a change and I began my search for a pitching coach, it became a high priority for me that we hire somebody that had the experience, ability and all of the other factors that go into seeing and helping these kids that we have in our program as well as coming into our program to help them develop their potential to its fullest. I felt that maybe we should go outside the box to do that. Instead of searching the country for the best college pitching coach that we could find, I thought that we should see if there is not somebody that is potentially in the pro ranks that could do this very important job for the LSU Tigers. I called on obviously the people that I know best in professional baseball for some recommendations, and I can tell you that once Alan Dunn’s name surfaced, I probably have talked to, without exaggeration, 15 different people that have come in contact with him and have worked with him throughout the years, and the reaction from each one of them when I mention the name Alan Dunn was consistent right across the board. You could almost feel the person jumping out of their skin with enthusiasm when they would talk about this guy and what he could bring to the table. Even after we had already made the decision, two days ago I talked to Ryan Theriot, and even though he’s not a pitcher of course, he played on one of the teams that Alan coached in Double ‘A’, and when I mentioned Alan Dunn’s name to Ryan Theriot, you should have heard his reaction. He said, ‘Are you kidding me? That’s unbelievable. What a perfect fit he’s going to be for LSU.’ I’ve heard this across the board from everybody.

“Obviously, you’re going to ask me about concerns about recruiting. I’m going to tell you this. This guy has a personality, he has intelligence, he has the knowledge and the experience. If I was a young kid across the country that aspired to pitch at the big-league level but wanted to go to college first, when you add all these things together without ever having talked with him, you’re talking about an opportunity to play at LSU -- a premier program, if not the premier program -- an opportunity to work with somebody that for the last 20-something years has had his sole purpose of developing pitchers to become a major league pitcher, to me you get the best of both worlds. You get the college experience, the LSU experience, the college baseball experience and you get to play baseball at LSU, all the while being instructed by a guy that for the last 20 years has done nothing more than help 25 guys make it to the big leagues that he worked with. I think he’s a perfect fit, and it will help us in recruiting as time goes on.”

LSU PITCHING COACH ALAN DUNN

Opening statement…

“I’m extremely excited about being here at LSU. I want to thank Paul for his vision and desire to bring me aboard this baseball family. I know it’s a baseball family when I look at the history, the tradition and the loyalty that it takes to have a program that has been established over these years, so I’m extremely excited obviously to be here. I look forward to continuing what has already been established here. My philosophy on pitching is basically I want to instruct these kids on what they do best. It’s going to be a pitch to your strengths, and until I get an opportunity to sit down and talk to these kids and find out what they think their strengths are. For me, that’s huge that they know themselves and they know what type of pitchers they’re going to be. When I do that, I will be able to formulate my plan as to help we are going to implement what they do best to help LSU continue the success that we’ve always known here.”

On coming back to the collegiate level…

“That’s something that when I started thinking about what direction I wanted to go with in my career, my heart has always been being a pitching coach and being in that environment where you have your guys, and you’re with them every single day. You’re trying to implement things that you feel like will help them reach the goals that we know they want to get to. Every kid that comes to LSU has aspirations of playing professional baseball, so when I thought about where my heart was leading me to do after my situation happened in Baltimore at the big-league level, my heart was telling me I want to get back to where I was teaching again and try to hopefully make a difference in some people’s lives. I thought where else better than to get back into the college game. To have an opportunity to come to LSU, it was obviously icing on the cake. It’s where my heart is. I feel like that’s my passion, and I’m looking so forward to doing that.”

On teaching power arms…

“The first thing that you said was obviously you have to have the power before you can become a power pitcher. I’ve had an opportunity to see some of the pitchers on video, and it’s very, very impressive. Their athletic, have great bodies, obviously tremendous arm strength, so you have to have that before you can even do the other things. The skill level is there for these kids, and I know that they have really progressed in the latter part of the year. A lot of good foundation has already been established with these kids. My goal is not to come in here and change what these guys are. It’s to help tweak here and there if need be. As I say, I am a firm believer in pitching to what you do best, and that’s what I’m going to try to instill in these guys. Attack the strike zone and be aggressive. I believe in the changeup . I think that is one of the most important pitches in the game. If you can pitch with a fastball-changeup, I think you can pitch anywhere. Those are some of the things that I want to try to instill in these kids and the reasons why we are going to do that and how it’s going to help them get to where they want to go.”

On his pitching coordinator position…

“The pitching coordinator job is more about evaluation. It’s more about coordinating your pitching coaches that are at that team. To be honest with you, one of the reasons when I started thinking about where I wanted to go in my career, when you’re in a pitching coordinator’s position, you are going to go into a city and may be there about five days, so you are basically evaluating most of the time. You get to do some instruction on the field, but primarily it is an evaluation thing as well as coordinating with the pitching coaches, so that is one of the things that really interested me about getting back into this side of the game. You have that ability to be with your guys every day and try to help to develop their careers. That’s really one of the reasons I wanted to get back into this business.”

 
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