P.J. Finigan added to Southern Illinois Coaching Staff

FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois head baseball coach Dan Callahan announced Tuesday that the Salukis have hired P.J. Finigan as the new assistant coach in charge of the SIU pitching staff.

Finigan, who was an infielder/pitcher for the Salukis from 2002-05, was the 2005 Joe Carter Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year. He was a seventh-round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers and pitched for four seasons in its system.

Finigan said that it means everything to him to come back and join Callahan’s coaching staff at Southern Illinois.

"There is not another place that I would want to get my start at, and if you asked me for a perfect scenario, this is it," Finigan said. "This is the same coaching staff that I played for and the same school that I played at, so there is a vested interest in me to work that much harder and battle that much more in recruiting to try to get the program back to where it was in the College World Series days. "

Callahan said that he is very excited to have a former Saluki in a position to make an impact with the young men in the program.

"P.J. was very high-energy as a student-athlete, and we hope he can bring that same energy level to Saluki Baseball from a coach’s perspective," Callahan said. "I feel strongly that he is at a great stage in his life where he’s young enough to be able to relate well with our pitchers, yet still be in a position to where he can say `this is the way I want it done, and I’ll show you how to do it.’

"He’s mature beyond his years, as far as his knowledge of the game, and I think because of his experience in professional baseball, he will be able to bring even that more to the table. We thought the world of P.J. as a player, and now it’s great to see him come full circle and become a member of our coaching staff."

Finigan, a Springfield, Ill.-native, had a monster senior season at the plate in 2005 for the Salukis, leading the conference with a .386 batting average and had 48 RBIs, four triples and six home runs.

However, Finigan did his real damage on the mound.

There he posted a 9-3 record with a 3.24 ERA. He tossed four complete games and struck out 107 batters in 105 innings pitched. He finished his career with a 12-5 record and his 218 games played in is the fifth-most by a Saluki in program history.

Finigan also ranks fourth at SIU in at-bats (837), fifth in doubles (47) and is seventh in hits (251), triples (13) and RBIs (135).

After being drafted into Detroit’s system, Finigan became the first pitcher of his draft class to reach Double A, doing so in 2006. He remained there until 2007, when he went on the disabled list for two seasons. Injuries to his elbow, where he had three surgeries, including two Tommy John surgeries, forced him to retire from playing.

Now Finigan shifts his focus back to the program where he helped lead SIU to three 30-win seasons in four years.

He said that there is potential for this year’s pitching staff to be really good right away, and also "scary good" down the line.

"We are going to be young, but we have a ton of potential.," Finigan said. "We have a lot of good athletes and we’re all going to grow together. That’s something from an outside prospective that might look a little bit scary, but from inside, it’s going to be a great chance for us to build some chemistry and really become a tight-knit group."