BRADENTON, Fla. — Some highlights of manager Clint Hurdle’s presser this afternoon after the first round of minicamp workouts at Pirate City:
»»» Why he preaches an old-school message of preparation and routine: “It’s important from the first time we’re together to put some staples in place that we’ll revisit throughout the season. You don’t hear the term ‘new school’ very often; you hear ‘old school’ more frequently. In our situation, it’s very appropriate because we’re building upon scouting people, going out and finding players, player development. That’s the way we’re going to have to do things. We’ll add some extra parts, when appropriate, when we find good fits. I think the players need to hear a message from the manager that’s clean, clear and accurate.”
»»» The difference between minicamp and spring training: “Today, it was more eyes-on. We’re not doing any heavy-duty coaching right now. If we see something that needs to be addressed, we’ll address it. We’re not grading anybody out right now; that will start in spring training. Now, it’s about getting our feet underneath us, getting familiarized with personnel.
»»» The difference between being a coach (as he was last year with the Rangers) and the manager: “You’re in a role of leadership, even as a coach. But as the manager, I’m accountable for a very large portion of all the things that go on, on the field. I don’t take that responsibility lightly. When you’re a coach, you’ve got an area of heightened importance. Now, I’ve got to make sure my coaches have the freedom to coach, know the players and get them to know me. I want them to know I’ve got their backs. We’re going to do this together. I need to carry myself in a managerial fashion. I’m not here to be their friend; I’m here to manage the ballclub, first and foremost. I have to get this club up and running in a much better fashion than what we’ve been able to do in the past.”
»»» Does he worry about trying to do too much, too soon: “The one thing I want to do is get the men out on the field, watch and listen. I have to ask good questions. I have to rely upon my coaching staff to take care of their individual responsibilities with the players their in charge of. Really good men have gone before me here. We’re not going to be teaching a whole lot of revolutionary ideas. We’ve just got to get better at the fundamentals of the game. I think that is in place. I also think that when you come in from the outside … I’m sure these guys have made their calls on me and the new coaches. They want to know what you’re about, where you’ve been and things like that. I’ve had enough experience that during a game there’s not too much that’s going to get thrown at me that I haven’t already experienced as a player, coach or manager. Hopefully, I can be a sounding board. Hopefully, I can be someone who can continue to push ‘em, encourage ‘em and guide ‘em towards playing the game at a championship level. It’s not going to happen overnight, but there are going to be some staples in place that we’re going to get down early and they’re going to know what I do want from them.”
»»» Is he happy with the turnout (about 36 players, including nine who are not on the 40-man roster) for minicamp: “The one thing you can’t control in these camps, they’re voluntary. I had conversations with some of the guys. There will be some guys here part-time, some of them will be here full-time. I’ll work with the people who are here. It’s not going to be held against anybody who’s not here. There are different reasons some guys aren’t here. Some of the guys who aren’t here, they’ve been around a little bit longer, they know what’s at stake and they know what they need to do. I’m happy with the guys who are here. They guys that aren’t, we’ll get them tuned in and, not that they’re catching up, but we’ll get them on board and in place when they get here.”
»»» It it necessary to emphasize the simple stuff when a franchise is trying to rebuild: “We’re not starting over. I think there’s some good things in place. I’m trying to build upon the positives that already were here. The men who came before me have done some good things. The group that’s been here the past three years, Frank (Coonelly) and Neal (Huntington) and some of the coaches who were brought over, have done hard work. It just hasn’t come across on the playing field like we want it to. So, from that standpoint, we’re going to be professional. We’re not going to fear anything. I’m going to share with them some of the staples that I’ve seen work. It’s not so much that the mentality is different. There’s no such thing as a small thing. Coach (John) Wooden said that, and he’s a pretty smart coach. I let them know from the first day that we’re going to hold ourselves to a championship level of execution. That’s one thing that is not negotiable.”
»»» His impressions of the minicamp experience: “I’ve never been involved in a minicamp of this type before. In Colorado, we had player development programs and accelerated winter programs, but you wouldn’t have this many men from the 25- or 40-man rosters involved. Last year in Texas, we had a pitching camp and a hitting camp, which was a bit of a microcosm of what we’ve got going on here. So, this is exciting for me. It’s a big opportunity for me to familiarize myself with the player development staff and major league staff and also the players. It’s a late Christmas present for me.”