Before Melvin Mercedes and Wade Kirkland, there was Lloyd Turner. Turner was Mr. "Have Glove, Will Travel" during his six years in the Oakland A's system, suiting up at every position on the diamond except for catcher. Turner reached Triple-A with the A's before his tenure with the organization ended after the 2007 season. The A's 2002 16th-round pick spent five years playing independent league baseball before finally putting away his playing spikes and trading them in for a hitting coach position with the A's in 2013. Since then, Turner has worked as a hitting coach for the A's short-season and Low-A squads.
In 2016, Turner served as the hitting coach for the Vermont Lake Monsters. Under his watch, several Lake Monsters had big offensive seasons, including slugger Miguel Mercedes, who tied the Lake Monsters' franchise record for homeruns in a single season.
During the season, Turner spoke with Donald Moore about his role with organization and more...
Donald Moore: This is your second stint coaching with the Lake Monsters. How is everything going for you this year?
Lloyd Turner: Everything is going fine. The great thing about being at this level is that you are getting the guys who are fresh and they are coming straight out of high school and college. Maybe some were drafted last year and they were in Arizona, but most are away from their usual surroundings for the first time and you get to experience all the first things coming here. When you think about it, three years ago I had Chad Pinder and Ryon Healy and Jaycob Brugman and Tyler Marincov and all these guys, and you look up and Healy is in the big leagues now [Pinder joined Healy in the big leagues not long after this interview]. Being able to say that that was my first year coaching, and I had Ryon Healy as one of my players and to see him in the big leagues and to move on and do great things is amazing. And so, I'm having a great time. I think the group of guys we drafted this year, along with the guys we had previously, are awesome. With any team, you are going to have your ups and downs, but I think these guys have done a good job growing and maturing and continuing to try to get better.
DM: With all the new hitters joining the club this season, what are some of your biggest challenges teaching at this level of professional baseball?
LT: To be quite honest with you, for the most part, I wouldn't say there is any challenge. I think because they have been in college, they have been out on their own and have had some form of coaching, structured coaching and are educated in baseball, it is quite simple for them to comprehend things that I am trying to teach them and help them make themselves better at their game. And a lot of things that I have talked to them about involves approach. If they can understand what having a proper approach is then they will be well off. And so that what it is. We are working in the cage, drills that aren't touching certain mechanical things but, for the most part, I'm constantly talking about pitch selection and what you should be looking for. And what you are trying to do during your at-bat. Situational hitting opportunities, what are you thinking, so when I talk to those guys at their level, they understand.
DM: Is there a specific skill set you look for as a hitting coach on this team?
LT: Does he have aptitude? Does he have the ability to make adjustments if need be to get the approach that he will need and what he should be thinking right now? And they are able to go up there and make those adjustments at the plate? Not just a physical adjustment, but a mental adjustment. Can they be disciplined enough to make that mental adjustment and lock in?
DM: How do you feel the team's offense has performed so far this year?
LT: I would say, good. I think there are some certain individuals that are doing great, you don't see many guys going up or down, so guys that may have started off slow that are picking things up and being more consistent and you got guys that started off hot, but have cooled down. I think the situational hitting is where we are faltering at. I think we can be a lot better in those situations and I think that mainly the struggles are connected to handling the pressure, just being able to handle the pressure and not put too much stress on themselves. It is important to get the job done, but it is also important to relax in the moment, as well.
DM: Are there any standouts you'd like to mention this year?
LT: Nate Mondou, Eli White, Miguel Mercedes and Luis Barrera are just a few and all the rest of the guys at times are doing well, too. We have a lot of talented players on this team and and I see a lot promise in all of them.
DM: What do you like to do off the field?
LT: Man, I love to golf. When I first started coaching my wife brought me some golf clubs and I tried it, and a lot of coaches play golf, so I didn't want to be that guy left out of the loop, but golf gave me an option besides playing baseball. Not that my wife doesn't love it, it's just an option. When I'm on the road and I have the time, if I can find a place to play golf and it doesn't break the pockets, I'm gonna go play. I love playing golf. That's my new thing.
DM: Any off-season plans?
LT: I have a baby on the way. My wife is pregnant and she is due in October, so yes, I'm excited. We are expecting a little boy and I have one little boy who is three, so we are very excited for the future.
DM: I want to thank you for your time and the best of luck to you and your family in the future.
LT: Thank you very much.