New Stanford baseball coach Esquer prepares to follow legend

AP

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  • FILE - In this June 20, 2017, file photo, David Esquer fields questions during a press conference introducing him as the new head coach of the Stanford NCAA college baseball team in Stanford, Calif. Esquer didn't shy away from the tough task of following a coaching legend. Esquer instead leaped at the opportunity to take over for his mentor, Mark Marquess, as Stanford's baseball coach. Esquer begins his tenure for the Cardinal on Friday night, Feb. 16, 2018, when Stanford hosts Cal-State Fullerton at Sunken Diamond. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

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    FILE - In this June 20, 2017, file photo, David Esquer smile during a press conference introducing him as the new head coach of the Stanford NCAA college baseball team in Stanford, Calif. Esquer didn't shy away from the tough task of following a coaching legend. Esquer instead leaped at the opportunity to take over for his mentor, Mark Marquess, as Stanford's baseball coach. Esquer begins his tenure for the Cardinal on Friday night, Feb. 16, 2018, when Stanford hosts Cal-State Fullerton at Sunken Diamond. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

  • FILE - In this June 20, 2017, file photo, David Esquer fields questions during a press conference introducing him as the new head coach of the Stanford NCAA college baseball team in Stanford, Calif. Esquer didn't shy away from the tough task of following a coaching legend. Esquer instead leaped at the opportunity to take over for his mentor, Mark Marquess, as Stanford's baseball coach. Esquer begins his tenure for the Cardinal on Friday night, Feb. 16, 2018, when Stanford hosts Cal-State Fullerton at Sunken Diamond. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

  • 1

    FILE - In this June 20, 2017, file photo, David Esquer smile during a press conference introducing him as the new head coach of the Stanford NCAA college baseball team in Stanford, Calif. Esquer didn't shy away from the tough task of following a coaching legend. Esquer instead leaped at the opportunity to take over for his mentor, Mark Marquess, as Stanford's baseball coach. Esquer begins his tenure for the Cardinal on Friday night, Feb. 16, 2018, when Stanford hosts Cal-State Fullerton at Sunken Diamond. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — David Esquer didn't shy away from the tough task of following a coaching legend.

Esquer instead leaped at the opportunity to take over for his mentor, Mark Marquess, as Stanford's baseball coach.

Esquer left rival California to come back to his alma mater and said the foundation that Marquess put in place in 41 seasons on The Farm make the job easier despite the lofty expectations he established.

"They're not many challenges in the sense that he really left it in good shape," Esquer said. "The kids know how to work hard. They're used to discipline. They know how to play at a high level. For us it's just getting comfortable with the personnel and really trying to find out what we can do to add value.

"That's our job, to take what they've done already and add to it, whether it's technique or keeping them at a high level when they slip a little bit."

Esquer begins his tenure for the Cardinal on Friday night when Stanford hosts Cal-State Fullerton at Sunken Diamond. Stanford is a familiar place for Esquer, who won a College World Series with the Cardinal as a senior in 1987 and spent six years as an assistant under Marquess.

Esquer spent the past 18 seasons at Cal where he was the 2011 national coach of the year after taking the Golden Bears to the College World Series and posted a 525-467-2 record.

There are lofty expectations at Stanford after Marquess won two championships, made 14 trips to the College World Series and won 1,627 games with the Cardinal.

Esquer believes his familiarity with Stanford will help and he has enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with former teammates, as well as coaches on campus he knew well from his time here such as men's swimming coach Ted Knapp and former men's tennis coach Dick Gould.

He also gets more advice than ever from Marquess, now that the two are no longer competitors.

"In all my years as an assistant coach and head coach at Cal, we've always been in constant communication," Esquer said.

"Now that I'm in a different role, it's kind of a dream come true. I've have had him as a mentor and coached under him and also gotten his perspective from the outside. I think he shared more coaching secrets with me now than before. I like that."

There are notable differences in style between Esquer and Marquess, who was simply known by his uniform number 9. Esquer will wear the same No. 8 jersey he had as a player, but won't be called by his number.

The players have enjoyed a more laid-back approach from Esquer that features music at practice and more freedom for the players.

"We're allowed to express ourselves a little more, be a little more creative on the field," Friday starter Kris Bubic said. "They're a lot of similarities too with what Coach Esquer and Coach Marquess both value in their players and in their programs with discipline and hard work. But the player-to-coach relationship has really been emphasized."

Shortstop Nico Hoerner said Esquer's ability to "speak the same language" as Marquess has eased the transition and the differences between the two coaches will help bring out the best on a team that is ranked ninth in the preseason by Baseball America after making it to a regional last season.

"One of the biggest similarities is the emphasis on accountability," Hoerner said. "The difference between the two is that accountability with 9 came from 9 and that's how the program ran and it was effective that way.

"One thing I've appreciated this year coming from Coach Esquer is emphasizing accountability coming from the players themselves. That's enjoyable for myself. Having had 9 already helps understand what that looks like and to be able to do that as players is exciting."

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