Bob Cluck shares knowledge in Padres' minors

Forty years of experience in baseball at the highest levels on down. Bob Cluck has seen it all and his job is to share that knowledge with the San Diego Padres, particularly as an objective view of the pitching staff at the lower levels.

You have 40 years of experience and recently come from the Detroit Tigers major league team to the San Diego Padres' minor league system. How can you help guys like Wally Whitehurst, Doug Dascenzo and coaches all around the system?

Bob Cluck: Really, I have a lot of stuff I try to accomplish but mostly it is evaluating the players, telling Grady what I see, and if I see something during a game that might help than I tell it to Wally. I don't really teach the players. I mention to the pitching coach's if I see something I think could help and evaluate all the players. Type up a little report and get it to Grady. I am here with Wick (Mike Wickham) so Wick and I will talk about players a lot. An independent source sometimes is a good idea. You get away from the emotional part. I don't know any of these guys and they don't know me. I don't have any favorites or guys that I don't like or whatever so I can just write it down the way I see it.

One of the things Wally Whitehurst mentioned when you walked in was to ‘lean on this guy. He knows a lot about pitching.' When you go through a system, what kind of questions do you get?

Bob Cluck: Usually stuff about how they use their pitches. It is more that than mechanical stuff. Very rarely do guys ask about mechanical stuff because that is someone else's job. You have Couch (Mike Couchee) and you have Wally. I might go up to them and say ‘why do you use your curveball so much and your slider so infrequently? How do you get left-handed hitters out?' I might ask a question just to see what he says. I am trying to lead in one direction or another. If I know the kid pretty well from spring training, since I haven't seen them for so long and Wally has seen them every day, it might just be some little thing. Maybe he is tipping his pitches where he wasn't doing it before. It is a tough thing to see from the dugout and because I am sitting straight back I have a different view. Couch stays in the dugout when he comes around and that is our act. When I am up in Elsinore I go when Couch is there and almost everywhere I go when Couch is. I am behind home so I can see a different angle. I went over a couple of times between innings and said, ‘his arm slot is higher on his curveball. Did you see that?' I have watched from the dugout all my life and it is tough to see from over there. Worst seat in the house.

Pitching instruction in the organization is really a strong suit with Bryk being an ex-pitcher. We have him surrounded. We have a lot of opinions and the important thing is they don't need another guy going down and working with the guys. They have enough information. I am a supplement to what is going on.

The organizational philosophies – is that something you are also teaching?

Bob Cluck: I don't keep track of it but one time there was a guy in Fort Wayne that wasn't using it and I was going in there. Grady said to me, ‘remind him about the changeup.' I passed along the message. I believe in what he teaches and the philosophy and if I see something concerning the hitters or defense – I am not limited to telling Grady just about the pitching. I have been a major league scout before. I just say what comes to my mind. If I say something to Wally and he follows up on it, great. These guys are professionals and have been at it a long time.

I am not going to work full time again. I decided at age 60 that 40 years was long enough. This part time is perfect for me. Couch has been my friend since he played for me in Las Vegas in 1984. I have known Grady a long time and some of the other staff members like Gamboa for almost 40 years. It is fun to be around.

You mentioned doing this on a part-time basis. What are the other trips that are planned?

Bob Cluck: I told them my preference is to do the lower levels. Guys get to Double-A and Triple-A and they don't need as much coaching.

Triple-A is tough with six-year free agents. They are more concerned with numbers than they are team stuff. I managed in Triple-A. Those guys are mercenaries. They come in, put up numbers and move on. I am more of a team guy. It is not as much fun.

I am sure they don't want to spend a fortune on my travel expenses so I keep it to a minimum.

Was the role what you expected?

Bob Cluck: It is a lot like being a roving instructor except I don't rove. I don't really have any specific responsibilities. I just kind of report on what I see. I tell the guys here honestly what I think would help and I tell Grady everything I see and email a report from here and send the same email to Couch and Bryk. There are no secrets.

Everyone knows I am not after anyone's job and that is kind of nice. In baseball, that isn't always the case.


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