He began his trek as a minor league manager in 2002 with Oneontoa in the short-season New York-Penn League with the Tigers' organization. Ready returned to the San Diego organization in 2004, managing the Fort Wayne Wizards for three years.
The off-season Poway resident is one of the more popular individuals in the organization, both for his wit and easygoing personality. He may be the most talented manager in the Padres' system for his ability to get the most out of his players.
He is constantly working to maintain the rather fragile confidences of minor league players while at the same time making players aware of just how much work is entailed in becoming a major leaguer.
Anyone who is around Ready for any amount of time will hear one of his familiar axioms of "maintain your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses". Players will tell you that Ready is one of the most critically positive people they have ever been around, which means he will usually be the first to praise a player for what he does well, but in the same breath he not only let him know what he needs to improve upon, but also how they are going to do it together.
Before we get to Will Venable there are two guys that kind of fly under the radar, Mike Sansoe and Peter Ciofrone. What can you tell us about them? Sansoe made the big jump from Fort Wayne to San Antonio. How much has he improved since you had him at the beginning of last year?
Randy Ready: When you are talking about Mike the whole second half of last year for us he was our catalyst; he was on fire. He had trouble getting his feet wet the whole first half, because we had those extra outfielders so it was tough to get him at bats against right-handers. He stays inside the ball so well – all he had to do was let the ball travel and let his abilities take over, which is what he started to do, especially the last month. He was our guy who really got us going all through the playoffs.
He came into spring training and wasn't really targeted for Double-A, but the cards fell right for him. With the outfield predominantly left-handed, especially with this being a National League club with double switches, he's going to have plenty at-bats before the summer is out.
Ciofrone has started to put up some numbers, but the question is where is he going to end up? Are the Padres comfortable with him in the outfield? I'm not knocking him because he has hit wherever he's gone, but does he have enough power for a corner outfielder?
Randy Ready: Obviously when you are talking about corner guys in a perfect world you would want guys with power, but keep in mind you have to first become a consistent hitter, power is the last to come. Pete is very polished, has great knowledge of the strike zone, likes to use the middle of the field and those are big advantages for him, which is why you see his results. His on-base percentage and batting average are good and he has a knack to drive in runs. He's pretty cool under pressure and he's young.
If you're forecasting Pete position-wise, when he first came up he played second, played third and Dh'ed a lot and ended up in the outfield at Elsinore. I think he's made great strides defensively; he only had one error last year. He's a big contributor anywhere you put him, day in and day out and year to year. For where he's at right now he should get plenty of at bats to get to the next level.
The player that receives a lot of attention, especially this year, is Will Venable. To me it's an interesting question, since you were a manager in the short-season leagues a few years ago with the Tigers' organization, have you ever seen someone improve as much as Venable had from his 2005 season in Eugene to what he did in Fort Wayne last year? The improvement he has made and to go to Double-A this year is impressive.
Randy Ready: Absolutely, especially when you consider he was more of a basketball player in college and had a limited amount of games in the conference that he was in. The three toughest assignments in pro ball are your first season, you're first full season and then getting to the big leagues and staying in the big leagues. He's a very good athlete and a very bright young man with great aptitude and work ethic. When you're talking about day in and day out adjustments to try to become the complete player that he has a chance to be, he's going to challenge himself.
You guys have him playing quite a bit of right field this year, when last year he had doubts about his arm strength to play center field. He must have made quite a bit of progress since last year?
Randy Ready: Those are things you have to work on and it's a credit to him and [Tom] Gamboa [the Padres roving defensive coordinator]. Getting his throwing steps in, playing long toss and getting on top of the ball. I really can't say enough good things about him, he's on the map.
Chase Headley seems to have turned the corner this year with his power. How much did playing in the Arizona Fall League help him?
Randy Ready: Well I think you get a lot of knowledge and experience in the Fall League and it's really an opportunity to showcase your talent. In the Fall League, you have guys that are right on the cusp of being in the big leagues or have been in the big leagues. He made himself stand out and rebuilt his body with some good weight. There is no question that he is above average defensively, a switch-hitter who really worked on his right-handed stroke and added some power. Now it's starting to carry over to here and he's off to a good start. Who knows how it's going to end up come September, but right now he's playing some terrific baseball and he's getting some extra carry on the ball.
You talk about his right-handed stroke – all of the guys on the coaching staff that throw batting practice are righties. How does he really work on his right-handed stroke against live pitching other than the batting cage?
Randy Ready: He'll have some days when he won't even hit left-handed when he is hitting off of us. It's a little a different in how you see the ball and we only have one left-handed thrower in our organization, Gamboa. When he comes in he tries to turn him around. It's a bit of a tough task, but so far it's been working out for him.
Sean Kazmar is one of the better defensive players in the organization and seems to have a knack for coming up with the big hit, he's one of the team leaders in RBIs, but his average and OBP are down this year. It always seems you guys are riding a little bit of an offensive rollercoaster with Sean.
Randy Ready: I think that is one of his obtainable goals this season. Is he going to hit at the top of the order all of the time this year? Probably not. He's going through a little thing right now with his eye exam and is having a bit of trouble seeing the ball when the sun comes down. He went through some of this last year when he was wearing one contact, and then he gave up on it – so hopefully this will help the kid out. He seems to come through more times than not at the plate, but there is no question about his defense. He's a highlight film out there. Again, he just has to maintain his strengths and work on his weaknesses, which is staying away from fly balls. He's got enough pop to get himself in trouble sometimes..
That is his quote...
Randy Ready: [laughing] A few people have told him that, especially in this ballpark. He's going to have to really work on getting on top of the ball and driving balls into the gap and improve his control of the strike zone.
Your catcher Nick Hundley got off to a slow start last year in Fort Wayne and this year it seems to be a similar situation. His OBP and slugging percentage numbers are not that bad, but his average is down. Do you think it's just a question of him putting a little too much pressure on himself like last year?
Randy Ready: Before we talk about Nick offensively, he's doing an excellent job receiving. The number one priority for a catcher is to handle the pitching staff. It's a big responsibility and he's been accountable for it and he's starting to become a real quarterback back there. So that is the number one priority and I think he understands that.
The offense will come as soon as he settles in a little bit. Here is a kid that has all the right ingredients and he will be fine once he gets rolling a little bit.