Craig Colbert knows importance of Triple-A

Before being announced as the San Diego Padres bench coach, Craig Colbert was managing Triple-A Portland. We caught up with the Beavers manager to discuss how difficult it is to coach at the level just below the majors, working with so many different moving parts, and how young players can adjust to the role of pinch hitting when they reach the show.

How do you measure success as a Triple-A manager?

Craig Colbert: I think the things you do in Triple-A are important for the guys that go up. When guys are going up and going up and helping out the team, because most guys aren't going to play everyday, they are going to be bench guys. Try to get them prepared so when they do get there they can have some success. I think we had a few guys who went up and did well with San Diego.

You mentioned getting guys comfortable in their role – how does a guy like Paul McAnulty adjust when he is in the situation you speak of after getting consistent at bats with your squad?

Craig Colbert: It is difficult but it is something every Triple-A player knows when they go up unless you can see the fact that you are going to be playing everyday, which does happen very often, they are going to start out as a bench player and they have to be prepared to do that. Obviously, playing everyday in Triple-A and then going four of five days and only getting one at bat it is difficult but that is just something that is part of the game and you have to deal with it.

I know I talked to them about it when they do go up. It is something that is very tough but then again it is an opportunity. When you get an opportunity, whether it is one pinch hit or maybe one start, you have to be able to perform at a high level to stay there. That is why it is a difficult thing to do as a player when you do get called up and say only get one start a week but you have to perform. Every time you are given an opportunity you have to be able to do something with it and look like you know what you are doing at least.

It was Doug Dascenzo who told me ‘it is easy to get to the big leagues but hard to get back a second time.'

Craig Colbert: I totally agree with Doug on that. Dougie and I actually played together in Vegas and in the Padres' organization and I can remember talking to him about it back then. Doug had four years at that time and I think I had two. It is a difficult situation unless you go with another club, which could be different. If you are with the club you started with and get sent down it could be difficult to get moved back up. There is also an advantage to that. Everyone knows you and that is something that can be helpful.

You had a lot of different relievers who got called up and that has to be a lot easier for them, especially if you get the call midseason – they want you or need you and will use you.

Craig Colbert: Relief pitchers that get called up from Triple-A – I try not to have them sit more than two days in a row and hopefully not three but they are usually getting run out there every other day and it gives them an opportunity to have their stuff where they need it to be.

How difficult is it to maintain consistency when you have so many moving parts with players going from your squad to San Diego and back again.

Craig Colbert: It is something you deal with. Triple-A is tough. It is hard to manage at. I have managed at every level and for me it is the most difficult level to manage at because you are dealing with a lot of other things besides just baseball. You have guys that are getting sent down that are upset. You have guys that are getting called up that are happy but there could have been another guy or two guys that could have been called up too and they can become upset over that. You are dealing a lot with some guys who are upset and the thing I tell the guys when they do get called up is ‘hey, play good because if you don't you are going to be coming back.'

It is a fact. When you get called up you have to be able to do something to be one of those 25 guys. It is reality and I like to deal with the truth when I am talking to my players. It is something I have done with the three years I have been here and I am proud of that.

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