Padres strike gold with Eugene coach

For the second year in a row, the San Diego Padres struck gold with their hitting coach selection in Eugene of the Northwest League. Eric Peyton proved adept at working with hitters – much like Jose Flores of a season ago.

First, coach, talk to me about coming to the organization. You were a little bit late in getting here, so maybe you didn't get the benefit of spring training and kind of going through that process. How difficult is it in your position, where you're seeing some of these new guys for the first time, to kind of give them a little bit of pointers here and there.

Eric Peyton: It's not difficult, but I want to make sure that they have my trust. And, so I'm just letting them get to know me as I get to know them. And I try to just pass on some of my experience when I struggled – how I went into a closet and didn't ask people anything. So, I feel I have enough to offer them early in their careers, ‘hey, this is a struggle, it's a grind, and your work ethic and your confidence in yourself will help you get through this kind of stuff.' It's been ok, it's been ok.

You come into this organization. I heard you say you got back into baseball and teaching about three years ago, right? So how did this opportunity come up for you?

Eric Peyton: Yes, I know Tom Gamboa, Tony Muser, Grady Fuson and I got in contact with Tom who was very nice to answer my call. I just told him I wanted to get back into baseball and, low and behold, how things fall into place and I'm doing what I love to do. I'm excited.

So, you get to work with Greg Riddoch too, who's been around the game for 30-40 years. He has taught guys like Tony Gwynn from their youth. What can you pick up from him?

Eric Peyton: Professionalism, patience, very observant, knows the game, very understanding and just everything he does I listen to him. I'm lucky that I'm actually working with him and (pitching coach Dave) Rajsich. Just the fact that I'm going to be a sponge off them so I can pass on even what he's trying to get to the players if they don't understand.

So, what's been the most difficult part? Hitting the ball to catchers during fielding drills?

Eric Peyton: Yes, infield, outfield, but, to me, I don't look at it as difficult, it's just part of the challenge of getting back into baseball. I appreciate every day up here doing this stuff. Difficult for me, is just wanting these guys to do so well and feeling for them. I just want to make sure that I'm not pushing them too hard and that they're getting what they need to at least get ready every single day.

What are your thoughts on Sawyer Carroll?

Eric Peyton: He loves to play. He likes to play and he likes to come to the park every day. That's one of the things that I like to see in young men, no matter what, come to the yard every day to play hard for that day. So, after the game, you can take your uniform off and say, ‘hey, I did the best I can.' That's one of the things I hope they all get from me, is to come to play every day.

I think you hit it on the nose where, especially with a guy like Dan Robertson, he just seems for me, the few days I was able to watch him, one of the hardest workers I've seen.

Eric Peyton: Yeah, if you watch him from batting practice, taking fly balls, to hitting; he goes all out all the time. That's an example of a ball player that just loves to play too. He's been everything, fun to watch, and I'm glad I get to see that early in my coaching career. Hopefully we can pass that on to the other players.

Is that kind of infectious too when you get guys who are like that? Someone else sees them and says, ‘if I want to make it, I've got to work as hard as that guy?'

Eric Peyton: I hope so, because I'm going to point at him and say, ‘Hey, this is what you have to, and you have to have a passion. So, now that you're in pro ball from wherever you come from, you have to find out do you have that passion, and if you do, you want to start bringing that out in yourself.' We have someone as an example, Daniel Robertson.

Some of the guys you're working with – the object seem to be getting them shorter swings, trying to get some compact swings. Is there a model you can go by that says, ‘hey, if you look at that guy, watch this guy hit?'

Eric Peyton: Yes, but they still have to have their own authentic swing. The most important thing is we all have to get to a point to get to the ball. That's the only thing I'm trying to get to. Whatever your style is, it's your style, but from here to here, A-to-B, we all have to get to. That's the only thing I want them to understand. The guys that are doing it maybe for them to see it, it might be easier for them to work on their swing on their own sometimes.

So, you guys have introduced some video too. Have you been able to work through some video, and does that then go ‘wow, now I actually see it?' Because when you're talking to someone, it's hard to fathom, ‘well, no, my swing, I've been hitting this way for my whole life. What are you talking about?'

Eric Peyton: Yeah, video is the best thing that I've ever seen since when I played we didn't have video. For me to slow their swing down and even see things that I haven't seen and go ‘yes, now we've got something to work with and you can watch yourself.' I think for a lot of players, vision and just looking at themselves will help them probably the most, to want to change.

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