Brian Esposito was a 5th round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in the 2000 amateur draft. He began his career that season for the Lowell Spinners of the New York-Penn League. His minor league career included stops in Augusta, Sarasota, Rancho Cucamonga, Frisco, Memphis, Corpus Christi, Iowa, Tulsa, and several others.
He made his Major League debut for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007, and also made several appearances for the Houston Astros in 2010. In 2013, he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a coach, and coached that season for the Indianapolis Indians, the Pirates Triple A Affiliate.
I was able to catch up with Esposito to talk about his journey, his extended career in professional baseball, and his goals and expectations for the Jammers this season.
Q: After beginning your career with the Lowell Spinners in 2000, how does it feel to be back in the New York-Penn League?
A: It feels great. I feel like my career in a way has come full circle. I had the opportunity to begin my career in the New York-Penn League, and now I have my fist managerial gig in professional baseball in the New York-Penn League. So it's something I'm thrilled about, and it's something I'm really appreciative for.
Q: Who was your favorite team and player growing up?
A: I really started getting into baseball when I was about 9 years old. I was a big fan of the New York Yankees. As far as players go, I enjoyed watching guys like Dave Winfield, Reggie Jackson, and Don Mattingly.
Q: After going to college at UCONN, what was it like seeing both the men's and women's basketball teams win National Championships this year?
A: It's always nice to see them play in the tournament during Spring Training. But it's even nicer to see them win the whole thing. I've seen them win it all a couple times recently (Men: 2011, 2014/Women: 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014), and it's great to have those bragging rights. I even wore some of my Connecticut gear for a day at Spring Training this year.
Q: What was it like making your Major League debut for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007?
A: Let me tell ya. It was everything I ever thought it could be, and then some. Once you walk through that tunnel, and up those steps for the first time, you realize all the work you put in your whole life has paid off. You finally made it.
Q: After having an extended playing career in professional baseball, how do you feel that has helped you develop as a coach?
A: Well I think my career as a catcher helped me a lot. Being a catcher helped me understand a lot about the game. It helped me learn about pitching, while also focusing on hitting. I almost felt like the whole game was always right in front of me. I learned how to help pitchers through the game as their catcher, and I tried my best to put my teammates in positions to be successful. That's some of what I'm going to try to do as a manager.
Q: What type of managerial style do you bring to the field?
A: I want our guys to be professionals on and off the field. I want our guys to go out there and take care of business, mature, and grow from boys into men. That's really where I am at in terms of managerial style. We are gonna be all in everyday. We are going to run things out, play hard, and the effort is always going to be there.
Q: Do you ever look back and wish you were still playing? Or has coaching given you enough joy and satisfaction?
A: There were times last year when I was coaching in Indy (Indianapolis Indians) where I was around a lot of players that I used to play with, or play against, and I always wondered if I could still play. But now, I am comfortable transitioning into being a manger, and it's something I am okay with. I've had my day to play, and now it's time to help these guys get better.
Q: Do you have any other hobbies or interests outside of baseball?
A: I'm kind of an avid sports fan across the board. I'm big into college football, the NFL, and the NBA so I always have something to keep me busy. Whether it's keeping up with your fantasy football league for the next year, or things like that, I'm pretty much glued to sports 24/7.
Q: What are your goals and expectations when it comes to managing the Jammers this season?
A: My goal is to continue to drive the train that the organization wants. When we get these young guys into the organization, we want to get them accustomed to the identity and the culture that we believe in as the Pittsburgh Pirates. Our ultimate goal here, is to turn these guys into Pirates.