For the past four years, Carlos Chavez has helped to shape the careers of the youngest and newest pitchers to the Oakland A's organization. A 17-year veteran of professional baseball as a pitcher himself, Chavez has served as a pitching coach for the A's US short-season squads since 2013. For the past two seasons, he has been the pitching coach for the Vermont Lake Monsters.
Donald Moore spoke with Chavez about how he approaches coaching young pitchers and more during an in-season interview...
Donald Moore: How do you feel the pitching staff has performed as a whole this year?
Carlos Chavez: We have done really well this year, better than I had anticipated with the pitching staff .They have really pitched well and they have done everything they had to do .
DM: Any specific goals you've had for the pitching staff?
CC: Well, you know we need them to throw strikes. Throw strikes, good things will happen. So we preached that the most here, you just throw strikes. We don't even want them to throw to the corners of the plate, just basically throw strikes and then we can expand the strike-zone.
DM: What are some of the challenges with players new to the league, playing professional baseball for the first time?
CC: Well, here, getting the new guys from the draft, the transition from college to professional baseball is different. Playing everyday, instead of just playing on the weekends like in college, that is a big transition and that is something we have to deal with because they are not used to as much as we do here.
DM: Is there a specific pitching philosophy that you adhere to on the behalf of the Oakland A's organization?
CC: Like I said, we preach that they throw strikes and get ahead of the hitters. Basic contact. We want the hitters to put the ball into play. That is the most important thing. The less pitches they throw, the better it is for them, the longer their outings will be and because they are obviously on a limited pitch count.
DM: This year's team has some very talented arms, is there any particular stand outs you'd like to mention?
CC: To me, they are all the same. You can be a first round draft pick or a 40th round draft pick pick, to me they are all the same. We all work together,we work with everybody, so for me the whole staff is good.
DM: Is there a specific skill set that you look for as a pitching coach in your players?
CC: Actually, we get them out of the draft. We usually let them get their feet wet in professional baseball and we usually don't tinker with them at all until Instructional League or next spring training. With the first year guys, we let them get their feet wet. The guys that have been here for a year or two, we know what we need to work with or work on
DM: You have played over 17 years professionally as a pitcher all over the globe: Korea, Mexico, and in five different organizations. You also coached on the collegiate and professional levels. Obviously, you have a deep passion for baseball in your blood. Is there anything else that you'd like to do other than baseball someday?
CC: No, absolutely not. This is it. I never had a quote "real job in my life". Baseball has been it and this will be it. There is nothing else I would want to do.
DM: Any off-season plans?
CC: Spend some time with my wife down in Mexico. That is probably about it. I'm not doing the winter ball or anything this year. Just going to take this year off.
DM: Coach, thank you so much for your time and the best of luck to you.
CC: Thank you.