Rick Renteria: Brian did a nice job for us. He came in with a bad calf and worked hard to get back. He ended up doing very well. He swung the bat – and ended up leading the league in hitting. Ended up becoming one of the most consistent offensive pieces.
We had some highlights. We had Pete Laforest who hit six grand slams to set a new PCL record. He hit 29 home runs on the year. There were some guys that did some things. It was one of those things. If you look at the numbers – they weren't very good on either side (offense or pitching). That being said, to their credit it wasn't from their lack of effort or desire.
The one thing I know everyone can take away from there is another season of experience. Whether they had a good season or bad season you are constantly learning about yourself. The game is always going to be about adjustment. If you can learn from it – the toughest time to go through at any level is a club that is having a difficult time competing. I think if you look at it the right way there is a whole lot of learning and information you can gather to use and apply. Hopefully, it will make you better.
You hadn't seen Vince Sinisi before. What impressions did he make?
Rick Renteria: Vince – he doesn't necessarily jump out at you. He is not a burner. He is not a guy that overwhelms you with the ball jumping off his bat into the stands. What he did was ground out his game. He gave you what he had on the basepaths. He gave you what he had in the outfield. He is not a bad defender at all. Not the swiftest of foot but took good routes, was very accurate and has a decent arm. He knows the game. He understands it.
He has an uncanny knack for putting the bat on the ball. He gives you good at bats. He may get into a two-strike situation and dunk in a ball or hit it in the gap if the pitcher hangs one – and even hit it out, as he had quite a few homers. He held his own. Vince grew on me as the season went on. He is a great kid. He is a guy that if you don't give yourself a chance to take him in you might miss him. He went out and battled.
He had a tough injury and tried playing through it and we ended up telling him, ‘you can't do this.' He wanted to play. He wanted to grind it out. He showed a lot of heart. It was nice having him. He grows on you when you see him play day in and day out.
While he did get hit hard in San Diego, Tim Stauffer improved over the course of the year. How did you go about restoring his confidence?
Rick Renteria: His effectiveness was solid. He kept the ball down and hit both sides of the plate. I think he pitched with quite a bit of confidence.
He had a tough time at the big league level – throwing well in the first two innings before he seemed to lose it. If he can maintain his poise and continues to effectively hit his spots he can be effective.
Every level seems to change the individual's perspective. Over time guys end up getting it and overcome where they seem to be overwhelmed. Maybe going back and forth it chips away at that sensation of being overwhelmed and they are able to effectively do what they do.
Sometimes, the skill level isn't what everyone thinks and it has trouble surviving in those kind of waters. Time is the teller of that story. Right now, the story (for Stauffer) is still being told.
What does Mike Thompson have to do to get back to the pitcher he was last season?
Rick Renteria: Mike, like most of the guys, was just a combination of things. Maybe it was a play here that wasn't made or a play there. He is one of those guys that would take the ball and get back on the hill and get after it.
He needs to continue to work the strike zone, work both sides of the plate, keep the ball down, and continue to attack hitters like he always had. Hopefully, that will continue to come back and he will pitch like he always has.
Jared Wells seemed to find his rhythm in a relief role. Why do you think that is and was he ever able to find a changeup that worked?
Rick Renteria: To be honest, one of his best pitches was his split, which was his changeup.
One of things about Jared early was he first had to have an idea about pitching. He was a starter and one of the things he had trouble with was changing speeds. What he started effectively doing – he ended up closing for us the last six or seven games – and what he started concentrating on was being effective with his off-speed pitch.
When your fastball and your slider are two or three miles in differential, it is not bad to have it if you can throw something to keep a hitter off-balance – which was the split. He started to throw it more and ended up being a pretty dang good pitch. The question will be how often can he command it. He started throwing it during the season where maybe one in 10 would be effective, then two of 10, then three of 10. He got to the point at the end where maybe we were hitting it 50 percent of the time. It is one of those things he still needs to work on.
I have never lied to him. He was one of those guys thinking he should be in the big leagues. "Everyone else is getting a shot. Why can't I?'
‘I am not going to lie to you. I have never lied to you. You need to be able to change speeds. That is something that is very important. You throw a heavy fastball, no question about it, but you still have to throw something that throws the hitter off-balance.'
And he did. He started to use it effectively. I think it is one of those things he is going to continue to try and master. I am happy the way he finished.