BATON ROUGE -- LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri announced adjustments to his staff Friday, including the promotion of assistant coach Terry Rooney to associate head coach, pending approval by the LSU Board of Supervisors.
Mainieri also announced Friday that volunteer coach Blair Barbier has resigned to focus upon his private business interests. LSU’s new volunteer coach will be Javi Sanchez, a former all-Big East performer at Notre Dame who recently completed a four-season minor league career.
The final adjustment to the LSU staff, Mainieri said, is the hiring of Will Davis as coordinator of baseball operations. Davis, a three-year LSU letterman at catcher, is the son of Randy Davis, a former LSU assistant coach under legendary coach and current athletics director Skip Bertman.
Rooney, 33, served as LSU’s pitching coach and recruiting coordinator in 2007 and will continue to work in those roles as associate head coach. Rooney held the same responsibilities under Mainieri at Notre Dame from 2004-06, and he also worked as a pitching coach at Stetson, Old Dominion, James Madison and George Washington.
“This promotion for Terry represents recognition of his outstanding performance in a dual role,” Mainieri said. “I have worked side-by-side with him for the past four seasons, and I have the utmost confidence in him as a person that totally understands what it takes to succeed at this level.”
Rooney's recruiting skills and guidance as a pitching coach have combined to yield several noteworthy success stories. In each of the past 10 seasons, at least one of his former pitchers has gone on to sign a professional contract despite not being drafted out of high school.
Seventeen of Rooney’s former pitchers have been MLB draft picks, with eight selected in the first 10 rounds. Left-hander Charlie Furbush, LSU’s 2007 leader in strikeouts, was chosen last month in the fourth round of the MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers.
Rooney, a Fairfax, Va. native, has been involved in seven recruiting classes that have been ranked among the national leaders, including Notre Dame's group of 2006 freshmen that were rated as the nation's seventh-best recruiting class.
Barbier, a former all-SEC infielder at LSU, worked as the Tigers’ volunteer coach in 2007 after serving one season on the staff at McNeese State, where he helped lead the Cowboys to the 2006 Southland Conference title.
The 29-year-old New Orleans native has decided to end his coaching career and work full-time in the private sector. Barbier and his business partner, former LSU pitcher Doug Thompson, own and operate two entities in Baton Rouge – Lindsey’s Entertainment and Lindsey’s Bouncing Tigers.
“I’m very sad to lose Blair as a coach, because he has been a vital contributor to our program,” Mainieri said. “Nobody loves LSU Baseball more than Blair, and I think he had a very bright future as a coach. At the same time, I totally understand and support his decision to concentrate on the businesses he and Doug are developing.”
“This is both a sad and happy time for me,” Barbier said. “I’m sad to be leaving LSU, but I’m happy for the opportunity this decision presents for me and my family. I love LSU, but this is the right decision because I have a responsibility to my business partners and to my family. I will continue to be a huge LSU fan, and I know Coach Mainieri is the right man to lead the baseball program. I will be cheering for him and the Tigers every step of the way.”
Barbier was a four-year letterman for the Tigers and started for the 1997 LSU national championship team as a second baseman and for the 2000 NCAA championship squad as a third baseman. The LSU team captain, he was the driving force behind the Tigers' drive to the World Series title in 2000, as he was named to the CWS all-tournament team.
Following his collegiate career, Barbier played four years of professional baseball in the Chicago Cubs organization.
A 2002 graduate of LSU with a degree in finance, Barbier was a two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. He was named Freshman all-America and all-SEC in 1997 after batting .353 with 23 doubles, 15 homers and 57 RBI.
Sanchez, 25, becomes LSU’s new volunteer coach after playing four seasons of minor league baseball in the Minnesota Twins organization. He was the Twins’ 14th-round draft choice in 2004 as a catcher after playing four seasons (2001-04) under Mainieri at Notre Dame.
Sanchez, a Miami, Fla. native, helped lead the Irish to the 2002 College World Series as Notre Dame’s starting shortstop, batting .281 with seven doubles, three triples, five homers, 29 RBI and 50 runs. A second baseman in high school, he was moved to shortstop early in the ’02 season after injuries sidelined two other Irish infielders.
“I’m very excited to be re-united with Javi Sanchez, and I know he will be a tremendous contributor to our program,” Mainieri said. “In my 25 years in this profession, I never coached a smarter player who understood what it took to win more than Javi.”
“This is a great opportunity for me,” Sanchez said. “Coach Mainieri has been like a mentor to me and to have the chance to work with him again is very special. What better place to begin my coaching career than at LSU with the rich tradition created by Skip Bertman. Coach Bertman has Miami roots, like me, and I’m looking forward to meeting him and benefiting from his enthusiasm and knowledge.”
Sanchez played the final two seasons of his collegiate career as Notre Dame’s starting catcher, earning 2003 Big East Tournament MVP honors. He was also voted to the 2003 NCAA Fullerton Regional all-tournament team.
Sanchez earned third-team all-Big East honors in 2004 while also serving as one of Notre Dame’s three team captains.
Sanchez, who owns a business management degree from Notre Dame, completed his pro baseball career last month with the Fort Myers Miracle, the Twins’ Single-A affiliate.
“I made the decision to begin a coaching career because I love working with kids and I love baseball,” Sanchez said. “I feel like it’s a coach’s responsibility to help mold boys into men during their college careers. I think we’re going to have a great staff at LSU, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Davis, 23, was a member of the LSU squad for four seasons (2004-07) as a catcher, earning 2005 SEC Academic Honor Roll recognition as an education major. As coordinator of baseball operations, Davis, a Baton Rouge native, will handle several administrative duties, including team travel and office management.
“Over the past year, I became very impressed with Will’s work ethic, his intelligence and his love of LSU Baseball,” Mainieri said. “I feel he will do a tremendous job and aid our entire staff, allowing us to be more efficient in many ways.”
Davis’ father, Randy, was an LSU graduate assistant coach under Bertman from 1988-90, helping lead the Tigers to College World Series appearances in 1989 and 1990. Randy Davis later served as an assistant coach at South Carolina and head coach at Louisiana Tech.