Q&A With Vancouver Manager Rick Magnante

Vancouver Canadians manager Rick Magnante certainly isn't short on experience. With more than 36 years in baseball, Magnante has seen a little bit of everything, from scouting high school and collegiate players to coaching in Italy to managing the South African team in the World Baseball Classic. Jeremy Knight spoke to Magnante at the end of the C's season.

The Vancouver Canadians finished the 2007 season one game below the .500 mark at 37-38. During the season, manager Rick Magnante over-saw the pro debuts of numerous high picks in this year's Oakland A's draft, including Sean Doolittle, Corey Brown, Josh Horton and Grant Desme.

Under Magnante's watch, the Canadians had their first double-digit homerun hitters since 2004 (Danny Hamblin and Corey Brown each had 11) and saw a Canadians' pitcher toss a perfect game (Brad Hertzler).

Magnante knows good talent when he sees it. During his time as a scout, Magnante signed numerous future A's stars, including Barry Zito, Jason Giambi and Bobby Crosby. Jeremy Knight spoke to Magnante during the waning days of the Vancouver season.

Jeremy Knight: Early September in 2006, Wilber Perez and Larry Cobb were called-up to Triple-A to finish the year with Sacramento. Was there any thought of the 2007 Canadians being put in a similar spot?

Rick Magnante: That's a good question. That was kind of an emergency, a transaction made based at movement at the big-league level.

JK: The same goes for the Arizona A's. Their season ended last week, any word on if a player will be called-up to the Northwest League to get some action?

RM: I haven't heard anything from Keith Lieppman, our farm director, at this point and time (September 1st). I think our pitching staff is healthy, and we have more than enough outfielders. Last year we had to use relief pitcher Anthony Rea in the outfield in the last game of the year because we were a little more banged up. I would say the roster is status quo and I don't expect any changes.

JK: There have been many unexpected injuries this season. Lance Sewell was sent home early, John Quine was out of action for a month and Corey Brown was just sent home because of a thumb injury. How does that affect your managing of the club on a day-to-day basis?

RM: It changes the lineup, a little bit. We have a surplus of infielders, we have an extra outfielder, and anytime you lose a player it hurts your chances of winning a ballgame, and it certainly gives other guys opportunities to play. With Corey Brown, we had Grant Desme and it finally gave him a time to step into the lineup when he was healthy, and although I believe with Corey we'd be [a] better [team], it's always about development.

JK: Speaking of Desme, he had a great pro debut, with a home run in his last at-bat of the game. Does a debut like that really set the tone for a player's career?

RM: I don't think so. I think sometimes getting the big hit like that puts extra pressure on the player. Or it makes the player believe they can do that on a nightly basis, but Grant's a pretty level-headed player and it's nice to say my first pro hit was a home-run. It's a great memory.

JK: The umpiring in the NWL has been less than stellar in most minds and coming from a manager who's argued a few calls, what do you have to say about the umpires, namely Spencer Flynn?

RM: [Chuckles] Ah, Spence. He's trying hard. I give him an 'A' for effort. They're first year guys and you have to try and be tolerant, and pick the times when it's right to argue. I think the time when I went out against Spencer [on August 24th when a ball was ruled fair when the C's and most of their fans believed the ball was foul by a good couple of feet] was a good time to go out. It was a meaningful call, and I thought it could change the complexion of the game, and it didn't but at the time it seemed like a good idea.

JK: You managed South Africa at the World Baseball Classic last year. Going up against the US and Canadian teams, with guys like Huston Street who you scouted before he was drafted, by Oakland. How was that experience?

RM: It's a great opportunity and when they always ask how was the WBC, I always say I had a chance to step into greatness. When I walked up to the announcing of the rosters of the Americans, I saw Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter and Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Roger Clemens on the mound, as a baseball fan it was a tremendous thrill. I'll never forget that.

JK: Do you know if you'll be back in Vancouver next year, or will you be moved up a level?

RM: I hope I have an opportunity to come back to Vancouver and I look forward to it if I'm given the chance. In terms of upward movement, I don't see that happening. I want to stay at this level.

Writer's Bio
Jeremy Knight is known as Canada's wonderkid of sports reporting. He covers CFL football, college baseball and minor league hockey for The Roadkill Sports Blog, and pro baseball for Notes From The Nat and Scout.com.

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