Dascenzo lights the way for Padres' prospects

Working as a first year manager, Doug Dascenzo led the Eugene Emeralds to a 43-33 mark and played an important role in the Padres' system as the introductory marshal of their assimilation into the organization. Most of the players taken in the draft went through his clubhouse first.

Working with eight pitchers early in the year who were in the piggyback role, was it tough to keep them all in line physically and mentally with them flip-flopping through the season?

Doug Dascenzo: I think so to an extent. It is difficult but they know how it works. They know when they are coming in as the second guy. They know they are going to start a fresh inning but they also know that they are only going to throw only 40-45 pitches. I think in some cases where it hasn't gone as well for them that maybe it could be a definitive possibility. What they have to do is treat like ‘I am starting a game' and taking it from there. What we have seen happen with this eight-man deal is more times than not the first guy, the starter guy, what we are experiencing is he typically has better outings than the second guy. I think they have to do a better job of concentrating and focusing more on being that second starter.

Is that part of the warm-up process for these guys who normally get to throw as much as they need and may only get ten or 20 throws coming out of the pen?

Doug Dascenzo: No, I don't think that is it. I think it is the fact that they already know they are going to throw 40 pitches, maybe – and I am not saying that is the case – but it is definitely a possibility. They are the ones that really know. As we go through it a little more, we will learn more from them.

There is no question that one and a third of an inning is not what you are looking for. We are looking for ten and 12 pitch innings. That should equate to three and a third or possibly four. That is the whole idea behind it.

If you do go to a more traditional five-man rotation, does the pitch count stay at 60-75 pitches since they still are coming off some long college seasons?

Doug Dascenzo: Right. Whether we would have started it and gone the whole way through or go to it at one point in time of the season, depending on injury or player movement, your first concern is always the safety of the kid. All that is taken into consideration whether it is an eight-man or five.

Seven years as the outfield defense and baserunning rover and now you come into a manager role. How is it different for you?

Doug Dascenzo: Oh my God it is way different. You go from the game to the bus to the hotels. As an outfield and baserunning instructor you have generally 30-35 outfielders and as a baserunning guy 14-15 guys at each team. In that sense you still have the same amount of guys but maybe not the entirety of all the issues that go on. That is a nice way to put it, I guess.

Do you find yourself gravitating towards the outfielders or the baserunners?

Doug Dascenzo: No, not at all. It is a bonus for me when it is time to work with them there because that is my expertise and I really enjoy doing that. But with the managing, everyone is on this team and are all treated equally.

A guy like Chad Huffman, though, who has moved from the infield to the outfield – you have a chance to be instrumental in his development.

Doug Dascenzo: Again, it is nice when you do have someone who is changing positions to have someone who has expertise in those areas throughout your staff with Matt (Howe) being an infielder in the past that has helped us in the infield. We have it pretty much covered which is nice to have.

How does a guy like Tom Gamboa help you, especially given this is your first "managerial" situation?

Doug Dascenzo: Well, he is able to share his knowledge and experience over the years and I can pick up some stuff from him as well as I might have a couple of tricks that we can bounce around. I think it is important to have the rovers come in. They are a very important part of the development program. It is nice to have fresh faces come in.

With baserunning an expertise area, do you give guys like Mike Epping the green light or are you tuned into the pitcher and relaying that information?

Doug Dascenzo: We give them the green light and see what they can do. Currently, he is not on the green light because he screwed up the other day. But that is how it works. That is how they learn. As we go through the season, we will give and take to see what they learn and what they remember. The green light only means that you know what you are doing. A lot of them think they know but they don't. It is nice to have that part on the expertise to help them grow as quickly as they can.

You go from baserunning rover – do you bring that over to the managerial side and use the small ball, hit-and-run, sacrificing guys over, stealing bags and being aggressive on the basepaths?

Doug Dascenzo: It is a good question. Your managerial style will change on a day-to-day basis depending on what kind of lineup you have in. You use your personnel to the best of their abilities and their expertise. Of course if they can do something than it is an extra weapon. You can't just say you are going to be a run-and-gun team or we are going to sit back and slug because you don't know what kind of team you are going to have. We have a couple of guys when they are in the lineup it is more of a running team. When we give guys days off it could be more of a hit-and-run type of situation. That is how you have to look at it.

Along the baserunning and pitching, there is a connection with figuring out a pickoff move and any telltale signs. Can you help a pitcher in that area?

Doug Dascenzo: There are certain things that a pitcher will do that I can pick up and will be able to tell them, ‘hey, this is what you are doing.' For example, a third to first move when a pitcher jerks his head back and leans his body back he is going to do the third to first. Of course, everyone in the ballpark knows it. When you just threw to home plate, you didn't jerk your head and body back. You did it nice and easy in your delivery. Those things we can share with them and try and get them better with that.

How big was the first week in Eugene when you had the minicamp here in town and got to know some of the guys rather than throwing the team together and trying to get to know some strengths while games are being played?

Doug Dascenzo: It is always good to have the extra week of practice but more importantly it helps the kids having it in the town they are going to play in because now they get comfortable in the surroundings rather than having it elsewhere then you move up here and in one day have to find out where the field is and the bus is leaving at six in the morning to go somewhere else. It is not that comfortable so I am all for having the minicamp in the town that the kids will play in.

Now, you haven't had a whole lot of time to work on different things because you have been on the road and different circumstances like the bus breaking down – how nice is it to have a lengthy homestand?

Doug Dascenzo: You can't really do a lot of work except chalk talks or some game reviews with the kids, which we do on a daily basis with the kids, on the road. It is nice to have a homestand to individually get your arms around some of these guys and go through a couple of drills with them. We have played a lot of games on the road and individual and team progression has been delayed just a little. But we will get it done.

Are the pitchers a totally different world for you? Obviously, you have someone like Wally but how is it working with the pitchers?

Doug Dascenzo: The general mindset of coming out and competing that just because you are a pitcher or outfielder or infielder – it is all the same in certain situations as you go through a season. The mindset on a day-to-day basis, we can help them with that.

With Wally here it is nice to learn some things from him, the ins and the outs of the pitching staff.

To be honest with you, the last three or four years I have really paid attention to the pitching stuff. I understand maybe a little more than some people do know. I still have a lot to learn as well.

Was that in anticipation of being a manager?

Doug Dascenzo: I don't think so. I always thought at one point in time I would like to do it but more so than anything it is gaining knowledge in a different area than your expertise. Tye Waller said this the best, ‘You have to grow as an individual. If you just stay doing one thing all the time or are afraid of a challenge and learning something new, you are never going to get any better.' When they start talking with pitching policies and knowing when to have a bullpen ready or how to use a closer when you are on the road or in a tie game – ‘you don't do that or. . .' I figured that was something I didn't know, it is available to me, there are pamphlets around, so I am going to learn something. I have been following it for a few years. It has just helped me and made it easier coming into a manager role.

You mentioned something that Tye said about growing. That is probably the biggest thing you can teach these kids down here to grow into men, approach everything they do on and off the field as a professional.

Doug Dascenzo: Absolutely. There are certain things you have to do. Our job as a staff here is to teach these kids how it is done at the major league level. If we see something that doesn't look right, we are going to let them know that. They are not going to like it but that is the way it is. That is what they pay us to do to teach them how it is going to be when they get to the major leagues. Really the hardest thing in this game is to stay in the major league level. It is easy to get there. A lot of guys don't see that or know that but it is easier to get there and harder to stay there and you don't want anything that once they get there is going to make them come back. The next hardest thing is getting back there a second time. It is almost impossible. So, we don't want anything to happen to them. We want them when they get there, they are there. They know what is going on and can make a good life for themselves.

You are in a bit of a unique situation because you were out in Peoria and got to see a number of those kids. Is there anyone still in Peoria that maybe you are surprised isn't here in Eugene?

Doug Dascenzo: We have a third baseman down there that we were just talking about in batting practice, Felix Carrasco. He is a really, really talented young individual. He is young and there is no need to move him quickly. We have time but I would not have been surprised to see him up here at some point in time if it was available to us or we needed him to.

I am hearing a lot of good things about two outfielders out there, Cedric Hunter and Kyler Burke. They are doing well down there, playing well. As far as their development goes, we will see. You can never say never in this league.

There are a couple of guys we will probably see.

I have had a chance to listen to your postgame comments and after a loss it eats at you – and after some wins too. Is winning a part of development?

Doug Dascenzo: I think winning and development go together. The answer to the question is yes. The easiest way to explain it is the first six innings is development and the last three you try and win the game.

The kids believe in themselves. I do know for a fact that they don't panic. They have given themselves a lot of chances. They have never ever quit and have never given up. That is what I like about this group of guys. I keep telling them they are so close to putting eight, nine, ten wins in a row together.

How far has development come in the last ten to 15 years?

Doug Dascenzo: I think it has come a long way, particularly with Tyler who is our strength and conditioning guy. That part of it really wasn't around back then. They didn't have a strength and conditioning guy at each level. You didn't have a hitting guy. It has come a long way and it is good for the kids because they need all that. Now guys are playing into their forties and it is nice to see. I think the addition of the strength people – and they have to know what they are doing as well. Danny Stinnet does a tremendous job too.

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