By day, he's a behavioral interventionist with Lincoln Public Schools. By night Dan Reichert is the pitching coach for the Lincoln Saltdogs.
Reichert, in his third season with the Saltdogs, helps settle behavioral issues when they develop during the school year.
“The way I kind of think about it is not really a security guard, but really security at the school,” said Reichert, who works at Yankee Hill School. “Since it is a behavioral school, there are a lot of times where students show those negative behaviors. Instead of taking a teacher out of the classroom, that is where I kind of step in and use my expertise to de-escalate the situation.”
De-escalating situations in the classroom and on the mound go hand-in-hand for Reichert.
The pitching coach uses his eyes in both instances to address the situation and how it should be handled by looking at body posture.
“You get out there on the mound, whether your pitcher gave up a couple hits or issued a walk in a huge situation, and before I get out there, I like to read the pitcher's body language,” Reichert said. “Does he have his head down when you come out? Or is his chest puffed out, shoulders bowed and looking you straight in the eye? If he is looking at you eye-to-eye with good posture, you have that sense of this guy is mentally tough.
“If he has his shoulders slouched, looking and kicking in the dirt, that type of stuff, that is when you have to change his posture and his mental thought process. It's the same thing with the students. If they are in (the classroom) taking a test, or doing classwork and start to falter. Are they out in the hallway punching a wall, or are they standing out there regrouping? That's when your de-escalation techniques come in.”
The assessments and guidance from the former Kansas City Royals first-round draft pick in 1997 have helped the Saltdogs' pitching staff to the lowest ERA in the American Association.
Lincoln has won the last eight times Friday's starter Derek Gordon has taken the mound.
Gordon was named the American Association Pitcher of the Month in July after going 5-0 with a 1.54 ERA in six starts. Gordon is also tied for the league lead in complete games (3).
“Derek started as reliever for us,” Reichert said. “He earned a spot start for either one or two times, and he threw well in that and I went to (manager) Bobby (Brown) and said, 'He deserves to start until he proves that he can't start,' and he has just got better and better and better throughout the whole year.
“That is credited to his work ethic, probably one of the hardest workers we have on the staff, keeping his body healthy and by far the most mentally tough pitcher that we have on the staff.”
The Saltdogs' bullpen also has thrived. J.R. Bunda sports an 8-0 record in relief, and relievers Dimitri Kourtis, Michael Wagner, Fabio Martinez, Casey Crosby, Cameron McVey, Nigel Nootbaar and Bunda had a combined ERA of 0.99 in the month of August as of Thursday night. Going into Friday's game, the bullpen had not allowed a run in the previous six games, dating back to Aug. 3.
Also under the guidance of Reichert, Saltdogs pitchers have drawn increasing notice from major-league organizations.
Lindsey Caughel and Shairon Martis were each picked up by MLB teams from the Saltdogs last season, while Brian McAfee was picked up earlier this season. On Friday, Cesilio Pimentel added to that trend, joining the Arizona Diamondbacks organization after Thursday's start.
“Well, I think it's all me,” Reichert joked. “It's just one of those things, they have been seen at the right time, by the right person, on the right day that they pitch.
“It's the luck of the draw. Derek could throw a perfect game and throw 95-97 (mph) and (if) there isn't a scout in the stands to see that, it doesn't do him any good.”