TROY, NY - As a player in the Oakland A's system, Tom Everidge was known for his work ethic and drive to get better. The A's 2004 10th-round pick grinded his way through the minor leagues, finally reaching the big leagues with Oakland in 2009. In a memorable at-bat, Everidge doubled off of Jonathan Papelbon for his first major-league hit. He would appear in 24 games for the A's that season and he collected six doubles and two homeruns.
The Bay Area native finished his playing career in the Indepdent League Atlantic League in 2012. Last season, he re-joined the A's organization as a minor league hitting instructor, serving as a coach on the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters' squad. Everidge has reprised that role again this season. He is leading a Vermont squad that has hit the most homeruns in the New York-Penn League as a team and is second in the league in walks.
Donald Moore spoke with Everidge during a Lake Monsters' roadtrip in July about his role with Vermont and his impressions of his 2015 squad.
Donald Moore: Hi, Tommy, it's your second year as the Vermont Lake Monsters hitting coach. How is everything going so far this season?
Tommy Everidge: It's going well this year. You know we have a bunch of new guys. They are excited, they work hard, so as a hitting coach, I'm very happy to work with them.
DM: With all the new hitters joining this team, what are some of the challenges coaching them?
TE: The biggest challenge really I guess isn't a challenge with these guys. They work hard. Generally that is kind of tough with guys to get them to keep their routines, but these guys show up every day ready to work and I just trying to guide them into the pro ball experience of playing everyday and teach them specific routines and trying to be consistent. I help them with little bumps along the way that they have never experienced playing baseball every day.
DM: Are you teaching these guys a specific Oakland philosophy on hitting and taking the first pitches?
TE: No, we don't have any set rules like that, but we do teach them the Oakland way, which is basically the way the game is played. We want to score runs and to remind them to score runs, you don't need to get a hit. Batting average isn't the most important thing. You move a runner over, to third from second, and the guys hits a sacrifice fly, you scored a run without a hit. So just reminding them a quality at-bat is not necessarily when you get a hit.
DM: What specific skillset do you look for from new players to professional ball?
TE: Nothing really special. You try to find their best attributes and then help them maximize it, and be more consistent in at-bats. You want them utilizing their own own tools and skill-sets, you know what I mean? Of course, as a hitting coach, you'd like to find the next Miguel Cabrera, but I think you look at each guy individually and everyone here got drafted for a reason, each has strengths. We are just trying to maximize their strengths.
DM: How do you feel this team's offense has produced this year so far?
TE: I think we have been doing really well. We always have room for improvement, but I guess it's my job to be not skeptical, but help teach them ways to be better. Obviously we're not where we want to be yet, but they have been tremendous. Our guys root for each other, they help each other out and they are pretty tuned in to themselves, so it has made my job a lot of fun because the communication has been very good this year. I think we are just going to keep improving and that is a good sign.
DM: Any standouts you'd like to mention?
TE: They all have really stood-out this year at certain times. You see Richie Martin with his talent, he's an exciting guy to watch. You see a Mikey White, has just been consistent. He's going to go up and give you a quality at-bat. Steven Pallares has been just awesome for us. All the new guys have. Chris Iriart is leading the league in RBIs [when this interview took place; Iriart is currently second in the league in RBI], so that is pretty exciting. You see him battling and working in the cage and he has raised his batting average 80 points this week, so you just see things day-in and day-out that all these guys are doing that is just kind of "wow", and watching them grow.
DM: It must be gratifying, as a coach to see young players new to the league flourish with your help and guidance to make that happen?
TE: Oh yeah, it's great. We got the new guys and I left out the guys we got from Arizona. You've got Trace Loehr, a high school guy, or a Jesus Lopez, who is only 18 and this is their first time getting out of Arizona and they have been awesome. It's just so great to watch the new guys and the guys who are in their first or second year coming out there young and gelling. Watching them grow has been really fun.
DM: You are a busy guy. What are your off-season plans for this year?
TE: Well, we are going to have a baby in August. I'll go home for a week and just hang out with the family as much as I can. That's my favorite thing to do and maybe give some lessons, but family time is very important considering we are gone so much, so I try to do as much as I can there.
DM: Do you have an idea of what you are going to do next season for this organization?
TE: No. Hopefully coaching. But whatever comes my way, I'll be prepared. And like we tell the players, "just give it your all, keep growing" and I feel the same way as a coach. I feel better than last year and as this year goes on, you see more things happen that maybe you can prepare better for the next time. So just continuing my growth as coach.
DM: Coach, thank you so much for your time and always a pleasure speaking with you.
TE: Thank you.