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Returning to his roots: Watson new CK baseball coach

Now as the new head baseball coach at his alma mater, Christ the King High School, Watson is imparting that pitching knowledge and much more to his players.Watson, 34, was introduced April 26 as the Royals' varsity head coach after coach Walter Tuthill resigned after 16 years at CK, the last five as varsity coach. Deciding last fall that he wanted to spend more time with his family, Tuthill, 54, immediately thought about asking his longtime friend Watson, whom Tuthill coached his senior year at CK, to take his place."I was hoping he would get interested," Tuthill said. "I care a lot about the kids and Christ the King after 16 years and now I can go out gracefully knowing I'm leaving it in good hands."Tuthill asked Watson if he would consider taking over the program. It was a good time for Watson after several years rehabilitating injuries that ended his major league pitching career."I spent three to four years in rehab after two shoulder surgeries and my neck injury (herniated discs)," Watson said. "I rested for about a year and now I'm getting back into it. It was always in the back of my mind that I wanted to coach and coach my high school."For his coaching career, Watson has big plans. He has spent a lot of time working with the freshmen team, some of whom he hopes to bring up to varsity next year. He also intends to do scouting throughout the five boroughs.The varsity pitchers are already reaping the benefits of having a former big league pitcher as coach, including sophomore Bobby Tesseyman."He's been showing me a new changeup that drops a lot more and has more movement," Tesseyman said of Watson. "He's also showing me how to set hitters up, such as go low and away and then up and inside." Tesseyman and junior pitcher Jason Williams are also hoping they could some day make the show, just like Watson.After graduating from CK in 1988, Watson attended New York Tech and the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him in the first round (21st overall pick) of the 1991 draft. He made his debut with the Cardinals in 1993 and traveled to the Giants and Angels before returning to New York in 1999 with the Mets. A trade sent him to Seattle briefly but he finished the year - and his career - with the Yankees.Shoulder problems sidelined him midway through 2000 and all of 2001. He officially retired from the majors in spring 2002. After pitching one inning of one game for the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League in 2002, Watson suffered two herniated discs in his neck, which he says put the "nail in the coffin" to his pitching career."I hope I could have some kind of career like he had," Tesseyman said. "Something even close to that would be great."Williams says it also gives CK an edge over rivals as well as giving him hope for his own potential."It makes you feel more confident, other teams don't have a major league pitcher," he said of Watson. "You figure he knows more. I think if this guy made it and shows me what he knows, maybe I can make it."He has been working with Williams mostly on mechanics, teaching him to throw his sinker away with a 0-2 count and so far it has been successful, notching Williams several strikeouts. Williams is also hoping to be shown the new change.Watson is excited about his new job not just because it is his old school but because he is taking over for a friend. Tuthill and Watson's father, Doc Watson, used to play in a baseball league together in the early 1980s. Watson even gave his first-ever Cardinals hat to Tuthill's youngest son, Jonathan.Tuthill will be around the rest of the season to introduce Watson to the players and the league before fully handing him the reigns."I love Walter," Watson said. "I'm sorry to see him go. He's done great things for Christ the King. I told him he can relax, I'll take over."Reach contributing writer Erin Bruehl by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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