Jose Flores: Challenges, I would say just to see how the pitchers would perceive me. Just because I've always been a position player who never really gave too much thought on the pitching side, obviously. And I guess just to see how they will respond to me and how I didn't make decisions with them as far as pitching changes go and just being able to communicate with them at all levels instead of just being a hitting coach. You know, I can talk to them about pretty much anything regarding the game of baseball, not just on the pitching side. So, to me that was a challenge.
Now, what was it about that? Did you find it like you were almost working with them a little bit more just to get a little bit closer up field for them?
Jose Flores: Yeah, I would actually stand there and see them throw their sides, just the way they thought about the game, how they went about it from their perspective. And just paying more of a closer look at what they did on their outings, you know. How they attack hitters and how they went about their daily routine as well.
When I was speaking with Greg Riddoch – he mentioned you guys talked a lot this year. What were you asking him?
Jose Flores: Just how you go about your daily routine as far as when you should back off certain players and how you would approach a person who might be upset or look down. I was always able to do that a lot with position players, me being that I was one.
On the pitching side, I was seeing how he'd look, how he reacted, just pretty much body language type of stuff on pitchers. And I would just ask advice on how you think I should approach a person who might be scuffling or a person who is not sure if he wants to be here or not, things of that nature. Nothing really out of the ordinary, just stuff, obviously with his experience, I know I could ask him about. Pretty much anything; pretty much how I'd be the manager; things like we're doing good right now; how do we continue to let them play and not try to do too much? And obviously with the weather down here, when it gets too hot, know how to pull away a little bit and not get them all tired down the stretch run, things like that.
It wasn't that long ago that you were playing baseball. How did this all come about and what are the feelings now that you have a year under your belt?
Jose Flores: I finished playing in Fresno with the Giants organization. As far as coaching goes, I have been contemplating it for four years. Every time I said I was going to retire, I ended up having a good year and didn't want to retire on a good note.
It has been in the books for me. Everyone I talked to said I could be a good coach. I had a lot of fun.
Everyone always asked if I miss it. One of the biggest battles was I wanted to make sure I was ready to do this. To be honest, I don't miss it. I don't miss the 0-fer days and the mental preparation you have to go through each day to go out there and perform to your highest ability.
As far as teaching and watching these young guys come up, it has been a big thrill for me. I can sit back and remember my first year in rookie ball with Batavia in 1994. I forgot that there are a lot of mistakes and you have to have a lot of patience. If I learned anything it is to have more patience.
Have you been surprised by anything you have seen or how you have reacted along the way?
Jose Flores: In Spring Training a lot of the coaches would tell me while you thought you knew a lot as a player, once you get to this side there is still a lot to learn in this game.
I had a great mentor in Greg Riddoch. I couldn't have asked for a better manager to be under to learn and experience what you need to know. I have the best mentor anyone in baseball could ask for.
This is the first step for many of these kids – you hold their future in your hands. How comfortable were you with that?
Jose Flores: I try not to look at it so much as me being a big impact. My thing is to lay the groundwork – give them an idea of what is to come as they move up, situational-wise.
I am not a guy that wants to change things. You are here for a reason and were drafted. If I think a thing will need tweaking or minor adjustment, we will do that. You have to let them go out there and play and get a taste of things their first year so they can get their feet wet and understand what professional baseball is like.
I feel like these guys are at an advantage because I just finished playing and everything is still fresh to me. I have that baseball player mentality because I just finished playing. I find myself wanting to give that to them – I don't want to put so much pressure on them. Hitting a baseball is hard enough as it is. By me telling them stuff is more confusing. I don't want to put too many things in their minds to get some of that stress off of them.
I am more of a person they can talk to. Talking to older players helped because it gave me a better understanding of what they were trying to teach. I am using that scheme to see if it works for some people. You have 25 players and have to adjust to each and everyone. Some of them might be better off talking or showing or doing certain drills. I try and be there for everybody and give the same amount of time and respect.
Have you noticed the changing philosophies between the organizations you have been with and what you are teaching versus what you were doing as a baseball player?
Jose Flores: I think I fit well with this organization and plan, the patiently aggressive hitter. The beginning of my career – I didn't find myself until after seven years of being a professional baseball player. That is when my career took off. A lot of players don't have seven years to give. You do it now or they are going to look for someone else. I was fortunate and I became that patiently aggressive guy. This organization is preaching that because they feel on-base percentage will accumulate runs and gets guys on for those who drive them in. Without having people on base and creating something on offense – we won't have that scheme.
I found that I wasn't so afraid to hit behind in the count. I was better off starting the count 0-2. I was always a leadoff hitter and had to see more pitches to try and get on base and for the rest of my team to see pitches. I fit that mold. It is easier for me to explain. You don't have to be nervous. Sooner or later you have to learn how to hit when behind in the count. If I can teach at this level they will have a better understanding as they go up and see better pitching. If we can lay the groundwork...
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