Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Catching up with Vermont's newly appointed pitching coach

LOWELL -- After last night’s Spinners-Lake Monsters game I took a walk down to the visitor’s clubhouse looking for pitching coach John Wasdin.

Before I walked in I had this idea in my head about what I wanted to write about regarding the former Red Sox right-hander. I'd spent a good amount of time thinking about it during the game, especially considering that the loudest crowd ovation of the night came during the playing of the "Sponge Bob Square Pants" theme song (it was an ugly game for Lowell).

I wanted to try to insert the words “way back” as often as I could when talking to him, ala Wes Welker's foot-laden presser before a Jets game, without ever directly admitting what I was doing. But once I started talking to him, I just couldn’t do it. He seemed so genuine and careing and truly came across as someone who wants to give back to the game.

Wasdin didn’t come off like the failed first round pick (25th overall in 1993) of the A’s who was played for seven big league teams, two Japanese teams and was traded straight up for the likes of one Jose Canseco. He came off as a guy who had done a lot in his baseball career (39-39 overall record in 17 seasons) and was now looking to use what he knew to help develop young players.

We didn’t talk about anything Earth shattering, yet I left impressed by his attitude. I expected bitterness, instead there was enthusiasm and purpose.

Q: How’s your experience with coaching been?

A: So far so good. It’s my first year doing it, so it’s kind of a new experience, but just getting back out there on the field, getting to put a uniform on, it’s kind of a different life, but it’s good to give back. There were guys that helped me so much as I was coming up. It's nice to return the favor.

Q: Was coaching always a part of your plan?

A: Never, I always said I would never go to Japan, I ended up spending two years in Japan, and I never would be a minor league coach, so here I am. I never really anticipated doing it, but after being out of the game – I retired in ’09 – and spending 2010 at home, I just really wanted to get back into the game. I like the developmental part of it in the lower level where you can just give back and just kind of teach and build that foundation so these kids can hopefully build on that and have a dream, make a future for themselves.

Q: Did someone from the A’s reach out to you?

A: No, I made some phone calls during the offseason, letting guys know – either GMs or coaches that I knew – that I was interested in getting back into the game and I did a couple interviews. I talked with the A’s mostly and they offered me this job here.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a coach?

A: The mental part of the game really is kind of what helped me a lot. But I think it’s the whole, you know watching when the athlete works hard at something and he gets it and he shows what he’s learned into the game and he has success doing it and at that point its just repeating over and over again to the point where he’s consistent and that’s when you see you’re moving up. So really I’m just enjoying everything now, some mechanical stuff, some mental stuff, but just kind of life as a ball player on an off the field. I still kind of feel what its like to be a ball player so I’m kind of in their shoes knowing what their going through, but yet as a coaching point I’ve been there so I can show them the rights and the wrongs and the philosophy of baseball.

Q: Any thoughts of becoming a head coach some day?

A: I have no aspirations of being a manager what so ever. There’s too much that you have to take care of. I don’t know the game that well. Just because you play the game and whatnot, there’s so much more involved to being a manager and generally speaking you don’t see very many pitchers who are managing. I mean there are, but generally you don’t see many.

Extra: “I still watch for [Tek and Wake] and pull for them when I’m watching baseball and they’re on. They were teammates and they’ll always be teammates and friends.”

Way back!

No comments:

Post a Comment