On Jan. 15, senior outfielder Patrick Biondi was named captain of the Michigan baseball team for the 2013 season, becoming the fourth Michigan baseball player to serve as a two-time captain since the turn of the 21st century.
“It means a lot because I am respected by all my teammates and they trust me,” Biondi said. “Being a captain at this institution means a lot, especially with the people that came before me here.”
After earning second-team All-Big Ten honors last season and leading the conference with 32 stolen bases, Biondi’s teammates made a unanimous decision to designate him as captain for the upcoming year.
The Wolverines will look for him to lead the team in several offensive categories yet again this season, including stolen bases, hits (67), runs (44) and on-base percentage (.408). But first-year coach Eric Bakich says talent and experience aren’t the aspects of a player that make a truly great captain.
“We wanted the best person to lead our team as we go through this season,” Bakich said. “His strong desire for Team 147 and to be a champion, (alongside) the experience that he has, (made it) an easy decision for him to be awarded captain for the 2013 season.”
Biondi’s commitment to his team and his personal growth are evident through his actions during the offseason. Even though Biondi was arguably Michigan’s most productive player offensively last year, he has some unfinished business to take care of.
“I’m hoping to have a better hitting season, and I think my (offseason) preparation will allow that,” Biondi said. “We are all just really excited to get to California and start the season (next month).”
Biondi and the rest of the Wolverines’ offensive production should be much improved with a bit of offseason preparation, but even more so through Bakich's instruction.
Bakich spent seven seasons as the hitting and outfielders coach for Vanderbilt from 2003-10. In his final four seasons with the Commodores, they finished in the top three in the SEC in team batting average. He also helped lead soon-to-be Big Ten opponent Maryland to a 15-win turnaround in his three seasons with the Terrapins.
His recent success at both Vanderbilt and Maryland seems to have prepared him well for rebuilding Michigan, and his team is thrilled to have a highly touted coach in Ann Arbor.
Quite frankly, though, Bakich might be even more excited to be with the Wolverines than his players are to have him.
“My wife and I are blown away everyday,” Bakich said. “I have never seen a better commitment to the student athletes and to being the best at everything that exists at Michigan. It is impressive and inspiring at the same time.”
Bakich and Biondi hope to instill that fire and inspiration into the rest of the Wolverine baseball program. When Michigan hits the field for the first time on Feb. 15, the team will surely welcome a fiery change from past years.