When Oakland A's roving minor league instructor Juan Navarette gives instruction, A's minor leaguers listen. The native of Mexico has been a leader within the Oakland A's minor league development program since 1995, when he joined the organization as a minor league manager. For the past 10 years, he has served in the roving instructor capacity, traveling around the A's organization to work with players at all levels.
Navarette never played in the big leagues, but he was a career .307 hitter in 21 minor-league seasons that included 15 years in the Mexican Summer League and six as a member of the Montreal Expos' organization. Navarette also served as a manager in the Mexican League for many years. He was elected into the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame (Salon de Fama) in 1998.
Much of Navarette's focus with his instruction is on fielding. He has been instrumental in the development of A's minor league infielders for many years.
Donald Moore spoke with Navarette while the coach was visiting with the Vermont Lake Monsters in July.
Donald Moore: Hi Coach, what is your official title for the A's organization?
Juan Navarette: I am the A's minor league roving instructor. That means I'm very lucky to have the chance to see every one of our teams throughout the year and it's good to see these youngsters getting better and reaching their goals.
DM: How many years have you been doing this job for the Oakland A's?
JN: Well, the last 10 years I've been doing this kind of job.
DM: What is your baseball background?
JN: I played for 21 years. Originally, I'm from Mexico and I started playing in Mexico, and then I came to the States and played for the Expos for six years, and then I went back to Mexico and finished my player career, so I ended up with a decent career.
DM: How do you feel this year's Lake Monsters squad is doing?
JN: I think they are doing fine. I saw them last night and I was very happy for what I saw. The discipline at the plate, they are very enthusiastic. The energy that they showed, I was pleased with that and this group of guys looks like they are willing to learn and that is a plus for us instructors. Gives us a chance to throw out information and express how we hit and field as players. I think it is a good group of guys. Maybe not in the standings, but I think they have a lot of confidence that this team is going to end up with a good year.
DM: What are your offseason plans?
JN: We have a team in the Dominican Republic, so we do Instructional League there and we have our Instructional League in Arizona, so we have a lot of action in the off-season with the A's.
DM: When do you have time for your family?
JN: Good question. I don't know if my wife will read this, I'm going to be in trouble again. We work around it. She comes up wherever I am or I'll get the chance to go and visit them, so we try to mix it up and stay in touch and keep that good realtionship going.
DM: Coach, thank you so much for your time and it was a pleasure meeting you.
JN: Thank you very much.