Paul Mainieri

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Mainieri is "very proud" of former Tigers Alex Bregman and Aaron Nola

"They're our poster children, no doubt about it."

Seth Dunlap
July 18, 2018 - 6:49 pm

The Major League Baseball All-Star Game turned into a showcase for former LSU players Alex Bregman and Aaron Nola.

Bregman smacked what turned out to be the game winning home run for the American League in the 10th inning, while Aaron Nola breezed through one inning of work while striking out MVP candidate Mookie Betts and getting Mike Trout, perhaps the world's best player, to harmlessly pop out.

There perhaps wasn't a more interested observer than LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri, who watched his former players on TV in Baton Rouge.  

"Alex Bregman and Aaron Nola sure represented LSU well at the All-Star game," Mainieri beamed while recounting last night's action over the phone.  "They're our poster children, there's no doubt about it."

Bregman seems to thrive in the biggest moments, something Mainieri has seen for a long time.

"Bregman has that flair for the dramatic.  He had that game winning hit at the World Series game last year in October, and this year he wins the All-Star game.  He's just on his way to a terrific major league career.  I'm just so proud of Alex and what he's done."

While there's no doubt about his talent, it's Bregman's preparation and hard work that have always stood out to his former coach.

"He has talent, but there's nobody who loves the game more than him.  There's nobody more dedicated, obsessed, with the sport of baseball.  He has a joy about him when he plays the game as if it's the last time he's ever going to play the game.  He does that every day.  There's very few people that bring that kind of passion to what they their doing in anything in life."

Nola pitched the 5th inning for the National League, making quick work of some of the league's best hitters.  He has been fantastic all year long, and is squarely in the NL Cy Young race with 12 wins and a sparking 2.30 ERA.

"The thing that sets him apart is the amazing control with all of his pitches.  From 60 feet, six inches away he can put it on a spot like nobody I've ever seen before," Mainieri told me.  "He's got unflappable self-confidence.  He doesn't wear his emotions on his sleeve like (Bregman).  He does it a completely different way.  He's a very cool customer."

It's been a busy summer for Mainieri himself, who managed the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team during their summer tour, guiding them to a 12-3 record.  It was quite an honor for Mainieri, who recounted the experience as one of the great honors of his career.

"It was amazing.  You put that uniform on and you play the national anthem and it's puts a tear in your eyes."  

With his a noticeable proud pitch in his voice he added, "It was a very unique experience and it was a great privilege to wear that USA. uniform and coach some great ballplayers." 

Listen to my full interview with Mainieri in the podcast below

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