Rick Magnante's baseball career has taken him all over the globe. As a manager, he has coached teams in Canada, South Africa and Italy, as well as the United States. Magnante has been a manager in two organizations, the Detroit Tigers' chain in the late 1980s and the A's chain since 2006.
With Oakland, Magnante has been the skipper of the A's short-season squad for the past six seasons. Until this season, that squad was based in Vancouver, British Columbia, but the A's switched short-season affiliates this year, bringing Magnante back to the New York-Penn League, where he managed for the Tigers in 1989.
In addition to managing with Oakland, Magnante was an area scout for the team from 1996-2005 and he signed a number of big names during his time in that role. Magnante has also had an on-screen career, playing the San Francisco Giants' third-base coach in the movie "The Fan" with Wesley Snipes and Robert DeNiro.
Donald Moore spoke with Magnante last weekend about his 2011 Vermont team and more.
DM: Any relation to former A's hurler Mike Magnante?
RM: No were not, but it's a small world because I know him. I saw him as an amateur player at UCLA, got to do some baseball camps with him and found out that our families are from the same little small town in Italy called Rocco Demet, which translates to 'half rock', but we are not related.
DM: What are your expectations for the team?
RM: Our expectations are always the same. Our goals are such: first thing we want to do is develop their skills and tools, and we want to build a level of winning expectations, and we want to make it an enjoyable experience.
DM: Is it harder to teach players in such a short time-period to acclimate them into the pros?
RM: Well we respect their style. And we don't want to take what they bring to the game initially away from them, but we always have a critical eye as to what they need to do to get better. So we are teaching, developing and hoping that if we do that, and we find improvement in tools and skills that that will lead to a winning kind of combination.
DM: I was looking at your team's record (first place in the Stedler division). Do you think you can maintain that?
RM: Well, it's a long season. Certainly I'm very pleased with what we have. I would say character is the key word when assessing this club. We have kids with great character, good work habits and a desire to be willing to learn and get better. So if you have that going all for you, you've got make up, you can build camaraderie and you can take 30 good players at the beginning of the year and turn it in to one good team, you've kind of done your job.
DM: Coach, any standout players you'd like to mention?
RM: I think so. We've got some good young players out here. Sean Jamieson, the shortstop from Canisius, is a kid that looks like he can stay at short. He has the arm strength and the athleticism, the foot speed and a chance to hit. So he is a very interesting player as is Jordan Tripp, the center fielder. Another physical guy with some power, foot speed, defense and arm strength.
Aaron Shipman was a high draft pick for us. He's a young high school kid trying to get his feet underneath him, good at growing that body and getting better, so he's a prospect as well. Chad Lewis, our third baseman, is a high school kid as well. It's his first real season playing in a pro environment. I don't consider the Arizona Rookie League a truly professional environment. He's done a good job for us, and he certainly profiles physically at the position. He's learning and getting better and he has a chance to hit. So we have some good young players.
DM: Thanks Coach for your time and the best of luck to you!