CATCHIN’ UP WITH A COACH
The A’s offense is certainly off to a strong start, as it entered Wednesday with the second-most runs scored (32) and homers (8) among American League clubs. The hot beginning comes with a new voice echoing through the batting cage in first-year hitting coach Tommy Everidge.
Though new to coaching at the big league level, Everidge is a familiar face in the organization. Selected by Oakland in the 2004 MLB Draft, he saw Major League action with the A’s in 2009 before later transitioning to coaching. Since ’14, he’s worked his way up the organizational ladder with stops at nearly every level of Minor League ball.
In a discussion with Everidge prior to Wednesday’s game at Tropicana Field, we discussed hitting philosophy and funny stories from his Minor League days.
Q: How would you describe your hitting philosophy? What do you emphasize or focus on with hitters in the cage?
A: I just try to remember they’re individuals. We all think different or feel things different, so it’s adapting to them. Then I can coach them better. If I come in and give a blanket thing, it doesn’t work. The blanket thing might be, like, ‘Just execute your approach.’ What pitches do we want to swing at? What pitches are we successful with? Just try to do that over and over. Not waste at-bats. That’s something we can control. Once you do it, then that’s what we can expect. We’re going to get out, but did we get out doing the right thing?
Q: What have been your early impressions, both of the offense and just the team as a whole?
A: I think they’re jelling really quick. We were talking yesterday about the good dugout chatter or, from the hitting side, the good cage chatter. Everyone is helping each other. Kots talked about that. Being together. If we’re gonna do something great, we all need to be involved. I think they’re really adapting to that.
Q: For you, going back to your playing days, when did you start to think coaching might be in your future? Was it while you were playing?
A: It was actually pretty difficult. I was in the Atlantic League. I had won the MVP [Award] and I was coming back trying to give myself one more chance. Early on, I found myself not really caring about myself as much and having more fun helping others. That was a hard moment. I remember talking my wife and I was like, ‘I think I’m done after this.’ She’s like, ‘What do you mean? You’ve never wanted to do anything else.’ It was a weird feeling. I took a year off and then, when the A’s called to see if I wanted to coach, I was so grateful. Not being in a place to help anyone or do anything with the stuff I learned was hard. So I was very grateful to get in.
Q: So, obviously, just watching that progression from a hitter is something you enjoy?
A: Yeah. A lot of times, we don’t progress because we don’t have permission to succeed. Maybe that’s from yourself or someone else. I always want to give that. Like, you’re good enough. Because I feel like our doubt gets us out more than our confidence.
Q: Do you see yourself being a hitting coach for a while? I know some guys have aspirations to be a manager one day.
A: I love it. I feel like it’s where I could help the most. I’m not against managing or anything. But I managed once in instructs and I wasn’t getting that one-on-one time, so I’m not ready to give that up. I really enjoy getting to know them as the individual. We have those 20 minutes in the cage every day, at least, where you’re one-on-one. I really enjoy that.
Q: Lastly, we all hear about the tales of a Minor Leaguer and you spent time there both as a player and coach. Any stories or memories that stick out that you could share?
A: Well, I had a big day in Double-A Midland. I hit three homers. And I remember right as the guy was in his windup before my third homer, some fan yelled, ‘Don’t throw to the fat kid!’ I crushed it, and he goes, ‘See, I told you!’ And they became like my fans. That always cracked me up.