Q&A With New Stockton Ports Mgr. Darren Bush

When the Oakland A's announced their minor league coaching staffs last week, there was very little change among the managerial ranks. However, with the promotion of Todd Steverson to AA-Midland, there was an opening at the helm of the Stockton Ports. The A's tabbed a veteran of the Independent Leagues to fill the managerial role for the Ports: Darren Bush. We spoke with him for a quick Q&A...

Darren Bush may be new to the managerial role in Stockton, but he isn't new to the Ports. The former minor league catcher served as the Ports hitting coach in 2005 and 2006. Bush's playing career was spent as a member of the San Diego and Philadephia organizations, as well as three seasons in the Frontier League. After retiring as a player, Bush returned to the Independent League as a coach. He spent three years coaching in the Independent League before signing on with Oakland as a coach in 2005. He will be joined on the Stockton staff by Tim Garland (hitting coach) and Garvin Alston (pitching coach), both of whom were in Kane County last season.

We recently spoke with Bush about his promotion and his plans for the upcoming season...

OaklandClubhouse: Is this your first managerial job or did you manage in the Independent Leagues?

Darren Bush: I managed in the Independent Leagues for two years; one year in Berkshire and one year in Quebec.

OC: What aspects of that experience will you apply to your position with the Ports this year?

DB: Just the experience of dealing with the players and learning to be patient with them. I think that will play a big part in it. Being [in the Independent Leagues], you always had to be really patient and really consistent because players were always coming in and out so much that just when you thought you had your team together, you had another guy in and you had to be patient with him. You get used to it, and I'm pretty sure that patience will play a big part in it.

OC: How much will your experience as the hitting coach in Stockton help you to make that transition to the managerial role?

DB: Tremendously, with [last year's coaching staff] being there last year, there was just a lot of experience that I was able to be around consistently for the last two years. Being able to discuss every situation as it came up and go through all of the scenarios. Being with Todd [Steverson, the Ports' manager in 2005-2006 and now the Double-A Midland manager] for more than 100 games in a longer season, I really learned that you have to be really patient because it is a drawn out, longer season and you are going to go through a lot more ups and downs then you do in a shorter season.

OC: Have you spoken with your new pitching coach (Garvin Alston) and hitting coach (Tim Garland)?

DB: Oh, yeah, we've spoken, when we were in spring training together. Garvin was hired the same year that I was so we have been together for a couple of spring trainings now. Garvin and Tim are great guys and both have the same mentality about working hard, so I'm sure it is going to be great.

OC: I know that the A's have an organizational philosophy about hitting and pitching, but do you bring something different in terms of a philosophy that makes you unique as a manager?

DB: I hope so. I hope I'm not the same as everybody else. [laughs] I just really do believe in the fundamentals of playing hard and playing at a consistent level. As far as a game plan and a scheme, it's not really reinventing the wheel. I just really try to pound that into them that you are going to have your highs and you are going to have your lows, but you really have to stay consistent with your approach. I really try to tell them that you can't let these ups and downs fool you, that you are a good player and that you have to just stay consistent. As far as a philosophy or something different, I think I'm just going to tell these guys that you have to work hard and play hard and the rest will take care of itself.

OC: I know that you had a chance to work with some guys last season who might be returning to Stockton. Is there anyone in particular that you are looking forward to working with next season?

DB: That's a tough question. I really like working with all of them. I really enjoy seeing them all improve and each one of them brings something to the table and you just try to get that out of them. As far, as someone in particular, no, not really. I just enjoy working with all of them and look forward to working with all of them next season.

OC: You got to work with Richie Robnett for awhile last season. Did you see improvements in his swing before he was promoted last year?

DB: Yeah, very much. Richie really loosened his hands up and loosened his swing up and it really carried over. He really learned how to use all of his strength and all of his bat speed to his advantage instead of letting it work against him. You could really see it begin to work for him before he left us and after he was up there.

OC: What are you looking forward to most about returning to Stockton?

DB: There's a lot. I look forward, of course, to the ballpark. It is really outstanding. And I look forward to the new staff and the new players and the new experience.

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