Rounding the Bases with Keith Werman
Keith Werman may be the smallest guy on the Virginia baseball team, but he wields a pretty wicked bat. The diminutive infielder is 10-for-15 (.667) through the first two weeks of the season while playing his usual stellar defense at second base. But there’s a lot more to Werman than just baseball. Did you know that he is ambidextrous? Or that he loves Guitar Hero and just started playing the guitar? Today he sits down to chat about all of that and more.
You’re off to a great start this season. Talk about what you’ve been trying to do.
Werman: It’s been fun. I’ve been working hard and trying to help the team however I can. I’m trying to focus on getting quality at-bats and being aggressive. It’s been a good start so far.
What is your aim when you step up to the plate?
Werman: I come up there with a good approach. I look for a good pitch to work with. I like to observe the field and see where the defense is playing. If there’s a big hole, I like to try and look for a pitch to hit to that spot. Really I just try to get a good pitch and put the barrel on it and wherever it goes, it goes.
You have a year of college under your belt now. What’s the difference between year one and year two?
Werman: I think it’s just the experience. The more I go out on the field, the more controlled I feel in my own body. I’m a little stronger, a little faster. All around, the general experience of last year has helped me relax and it’s helped to slow down the game.
What was the last month of the 2009 season like for you, where you stepped into the lineup and made a huge impact in the team’s run to Omaha?
Werman: I was just going out there and having fun and giving it all I had every day. I just wanted to do what I could to help the team. It was working out well and it was a blast.
Did people start to recognize you after the postseason run?
Werman: It got around. Playing ball in the summer after the trip to Omaha, some people would recognize me, even at Outback (Steakhouse) – ‘Hey are you Keith Werman?’ It was cool; it was a great experience. I try to keep that to the side though. I don’t want to be the big name. I like to be the small guy and take care of my own business and try to go out there and have a lot of fun.
Talk about the influence your brother Kyle had on you, especially in leading you to UVa.
Werman: Watching him play here for five years (he redshirted one season) and seeing Coach O’Connor and his staff build this program, it made me want to come here. He had an awesome experience, which I really wanted to get into. To have him be the little man and have the same style of play that I have, and to see all the fans get excited about him, and then to come here and take over that role is pretty cool.
What is the best little person comment that you have gotten from opposing fans?
Werman: From last year at Ole Miss, I ran by the bullpen to get warmed up to go in defensively and some guy said ‘do you have a driver’s license?’ It was pretty funny; I got a laugh out of it. At East Carolina I got a couple – ‘are you in middle school?’ ‘You better choke up on the bat.’ It’s fun for me.
You’ve got to have a thick skin after listening to those comments over the years.
Werman: I really eat it up. It just drives me to focus even more and show them that even though I’m a small guy, I can still play at this level.
Talk about being ambidextrous.
Werman: I was born as a lefty. As I was starting to walk and pick up a ball, my dad and brother noticed that I was trying to grab and throw lefty and they would tell me no and put the ball in my right hand. They said that you need to be a righty because lefthanders only can pitch and play the outfield and first base. Knowing I wasn’t going to be a very big guy, lefty wouldn’t have been a good fit for me so they had my throw righty. When I was about seven or eight, they asked me to pick up a ball lefty and I started throwing it and it was natural. When I was 13, I threw a complete game – 3 1/3 lefty and 3 2/3 righty – it was pretty cool.
So how does that work? You just decide in the middle of the game to switch it up and throw on another glove while you’re pitching?
Werman: My dad actually went online and found a six-finger glove so I can wear it on both hands. In that game I initially started out lefty and went as far as I could until a guy hit a double into left-center and I looked over to my dad, who was the coach at the time, and he said ‘switch it over,’ so I switched hands and started throwing righty.
What was the reaction to that?
Werman: It was a pretty cool reaction. All the kids were like ‘whoa’ and all starstruck. They were all up on the cage watching. The best was I was pitching righty and the first guy got on base and then I would switch to lefty and pick him off and then switch back righty and pitch, and they didn’t know what happened.
Talk about getting started on the guitar.
Werman: I got a guitar for Christmas. My dad and brother have been messing around with it for a couple years now and I thought it was pretty cool. I am pretty into music and I just picked up and try to mess around and have some fun with it during my time off. I’m trying to get creative but it’s hard when you don’t know the notes well yet.
Food: Chipotle burrito
Spot on Grounds: The Lawn
Baseball Memory: Omaha
TV Show: Entourage
Website: College Humor
Music: I’m a rock and alternative guy – Foo Fighters is my favorite
Movie: Wedding Crashers
Sports Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Capitals, LA Lakers
Celebrity: Vince Vaughn