Tom Gamboa: My role is two-fold. Physically with the player on the field, my job is to work with the outfielders, baserunning, bunting and kind of supervise or overlook the overall team defense. The fundamentals – the bunt plays, the pickoffs, the cut-off man and relays.
The other half, when Grady Fuson hired me, he wanted the other half to be staff development. The 33 years I have done this, being a manager and coordinator for three different organizations, he wanted to utilize my experience with the young people, like a Doug Dascenzo, in any way I could the managers and coaches – whether it be how to run a game or coaching techniques or anything involved in staff development. Fortunately, a lot of these guys on our staff played for me or against me in the past so I had a rapport with almost every one of them.
It has been a lot of fun for me.
It is like any business. If you want to be a carpenter, you want to be with someone who has made a living at it to eliminate some of the trials and errors you would make on your own. It has been a lot of fun.
What kind of questions do you get. These are some proud guys too, many of whom played in the major leagues.
Tom Gamboa: The difference, and what a lot of people forget, is you take a major league player that has had a 20-year career, your focus has been on yourself. While it is a team game, it is also an individual game within the team game. Once you get into managing, now you are responsible for the 25-man group that you have and how to build a team unity, team chemistry; how to keep the guys motivated who aren't everyday players. There is a lot of little nuances with the game.
A perfect example is when I was the coordinator with the Tigers, we hired Chris Chambliss. Here was a guy who was virtually a major league star with a lot of great years with the Yankees and we hired him to manage our Double-A baseball team.
The first game in spring training when Chris was coaching third base, as a minor league manager and part of their job duties, he would send a guy that would get thrown out at the plate and then hold a guy up only to have the outfielder bobble the ball. I could see he needed help. And to his credit, before I offered it, he came to me knowing I had been doing this for a long time. He said, ‘I am having a heck of a job coaching third base.'
Even though he ran the bases for 18 years in the big leagues…I said, ‘Chris, you are doing something you have never done before.' What you see happen to a lot of people is they forget to anticipate that on a batted ball the first thing they need to do is get out of that coaching box and work their way down towards home plate to give the play more time to develop and then they can use their instincts. I said, ‘Chris, standing even with the base, at the time you are having to make the call it is like flipping a coin and hoping it comes up heads.' Right away he understood and immediately he got better.
It is little nuances like that that you are not exposed to as a player and get exposed to as a coach.
Last year you were with Double-A Arkansas and saw some unbelievable talent out there in the Angels system.
Oh my gosh. I have worked for ten different teams in my career and I really have to tip my hat to the Angels. As I told, in spring training of 2005, Mike Sciocia took me and some coaches out to dinner and he said, ‘you are new here and it is interesting to get a fresh opinion on the players in big league camp.
I said, ‘Mike, this is my tenth team and I have never been in a major league camp with any of the teams in my background with so many legitimate major league players. And not just fringe guys.
I told him at the time, ‘As good as your career has been with the Angels, I think your best years managing are ahead of you because I think the cream of the crop in the farm system are going to be better than the 2002 team you had.
I was fortunate enough to have seven guys off the club I was managing who are now playing for the Angels and making an impact.