Bill Plummer is coming back to familiar, and successful, territory. The 50 year old manager was announced this week as the new skipper of the Diamondbacks Hi-A affiliate, the Lancaster JetHawks. Plummer is in his second go round as the JetHawks skipper, in 2002 he took over mid season and guided the team to the California League playoffs, earning Cal League Manager of the Year in the process. Speaking on a conferance call while he vacations with his daughters Monday, Plummer was re-introduced at the JetHawks skipper and sound up beat and ready to go.
While rosters won't be set, or even hinted at, for another three weeks, Plummer is excited about some of the players that might start in Lancaster.
"You've really got to see your team and then evaluate what you've got, but AJ Shappi is a kid with great control, who throws strikes, pitches on both side of the plate, and has an outstanding breaking ball. His change up is improving, but really it is the control that has been the most impressive thing about this kid. I really hope he starts at Double-A, but he really impressed me last year at Yakima."
Pitching is always at a premium, but Plummer got to watch second baseman Erik Schindewolf in his first pro season last year and hopes to coach him again at Lancaster, "Schindewolf is just a blue collar guy. He was our most consistent player all year, just getting big hits, getting on base, hitting over .300, and those are things I think he will do again. He reminds me a lot of Andy Green. Green's probably got more speed than Wolfie, but these guys are very similar and I think he was a great draft pick. With kids like that you don't necessarily base it all on their tools, because sometimes they just put up numbers everywhere they go."
Plummer also has high praise for the coaches joining him, pitching coach Jeff Pico and hitting coach Damon Mashore. Both Pico and Mashore have worked with Plummer before, and Plummer thinks that while that continuity might be a little over rated, it certainly can help, "Both these guys know me, and I know them, and that helps. When you start with a new staff, you get some time to get to know each other, and so it's not that big a deal, but the fact that these guys know what I expect, and I know their strengths and weaknesses, it makes things easier."
Plummer's laid back style is certainly a contrast to Lancaster's last head man, Wally Backman, but Plummer thinks the ballclub is managed according to the players, not the coaches. "Everybody has their own style, their own philosophies, but all I expect is an honest day's work for an honest day's wage. Baseball is about repetition, what we want to do is put a club out there that is fundamentally sound and works hard. I know that my coaches and I will work hard, put a lot of time in on and off the field, and that's what we expect of our players. I can't say I'll run more or less than some one else, because I haven't seen the team yet. When I do, I'll coach to my team's strengths." And when asked if one of those strengths will be power, Plummer dispelled what he feels is a myth that the Lancaster ballpark, The Hanger, is a hitter's park. "I disagree with that term. If you do certain things as a pitcher, you can pitch in any ball park. I remember a lot of two to one and three to two games when I was here last time. You learn how to pitch inside, and use off speed pitches. You have to limit your errors and your walks. You try and develop and you use your best people. What you learn is that it's not how hard you throw, but where you put the pitch."
Finally Plummer addressed the issue of what the Diamondbacks off season moves mean to his players in Hi-A. "If the players start worrying about where they are not, as opposed to where they are, then you're in trouble. These guys have control of what they are doing right now. If guys have good years and there isn't a spot in this organization, there are always other teams looking to improve, and one of those teams will pick them up."