Back in the Pen With Doug Bochtler

By Wayne McBrayer & Rebecca Herman / / @Padres360
March 12, 2016

Dough Bochtler, Padres Spring Training 2016 Photo by Rebecca Herman

Dough Bochtler, Padres Spring Training 2016
Photo by Rebecca Herman

In part 1 of our interview with Doug Bochtler, he talked about his career, working with Trevor Hoffman and watching Bruce Bochy develop as a manager.  In part 2, Doug talks about coaching and his thoughts about working with Darren Balsley and what he thinks of new Padres manager, Andy Green.

Padres360 – So what year did you transition to becoming a coach and was there anybody that influenced you to do that?

Doug Bochtler – My transition into a coach kind of happened as my playing career was winding down. I played in the major leagues in 2000 with the Kansas City Royals and the following spring training, it was a rough spring training. My wife was diagnosed with skin cancer, I went through some stuff. I missed a lot of time. I came back to camp after I had gone to help her go through some of her treatments and the surgery. I came back and the world just threw a bombshell on me. I was like,“What? I was in the big leagues with you the year before and now you’re asking me to go to Double A?” They said,“Well, listen, we got this guy. We really want you to go down there, show him how to be a professional and then to this guy, he’s a big prospect for us. Is there anyway you would do this?” I was like,“Let me think about it.” I wasn’t really up for that. It was an impact to your pride at that point, right? In the big leagues and then they wanted you to go to Double A. I went home, I thought about it. I talked to my wife and eventually elected to do it. So I went and spent half of the 2001 season in Double A with the Royals. The kid that I was there to mentor ended up okay. So, it was a good one. He was Jeremy Affeldt.

Doug Bochtler – So, it ended up being a good experience. It was at that point during my career where something happened internally with me. What happened was I realized that I wanted to be there with people, to help people more than it was there for being myself. So I got greater satisfaction watching my kid go out there that I’ve been helping in the bullpen or playing catch. I drew greater satisfaction than when I went out there and drew up a zero, you know? And then that continued. They traded me through the Minnesota Twins. I had an opportunity to mentor more guys. That was the sole purpose I was there. We had guys like Johan Santana in the system. Even Matthew LeCroy on the catching side. So to be able to be that person, I kind of knew that coaching was in my future. And then when I retired – I got done playing… I didn’t retire – they wouldn’t let me play. I blew out, and I was 33 years old. I started teaching young kids. It was the only thing that I knew to do. At that point, I can do it myself and had a lot of knowledge. I wanted to pass that knowledge on. So that’s when the coaching started.

Padres360 – Well, that’s real exciting too because as an individual, we can leave a mark. But the real legacies come into play when we can help someone else achieve their dreams. And it’s really fun listening to you talk about that, Doug, because that sounds almost like what I was listening to in one of the interviews with Andy last week. You guys have a lot of similarities in that you really want to help people become the best they can be.

Doug Bochtler – Absolutely. I’m a person that – on the pitching side – I always think as an athlete, what you’re doing is never good enough. That’s the way that I feel. People all the time will say, “Hey, you had a great career and I’m like,“No, I didn’t. I had an OK career” And if you were to ask “Name the big leaguer that’s not a Hall-Of-Famer…Jim Evans, you had a great career.” “I did, but I wasn’t a Hall-Of-Famer.” You ask, whoever it may be, as an athlete you always want to be better. And to be great, you have to go through painful situations. And if I can shortcut the pain that I experienced in my development because I have knowledge that I have the ability to pass on to players – if I can shortcut that pain in that person – I want to do it. Let their pain be at a different level, the difference between having a great career and a Hall-Of-Fame career. Not just a good career to a great career. Let their pain be at a much better level than mine. And I think that when you’re looking at passing that information on, it boils down to the ability to communicate and be transparent enough for the player to see your passion in them.

Padres360 – Just hearing you say this, I’m really moved because the idea of what you’re talking about – really to be honest – is being a servant leader. That, as a fan, I love hearing that you want to impart that to the players that you’re working with.

Doug Bochtler –  That’s why we’re here. I don’t know of any other reason. I can’t go out there and do it anymore. So why do I hold on to what I have? You know what I mean? Why would I hold to what I’ve had? I’m also a person that believes in, if you’re going to do something you do it to your best. And my father instituted something in my life many years ago. He told me that,“10% our of everything you make needs to spent on furthering your education and never stop learning. It’s one of those things that, if you stop learning, you’re done. You made the statement to me a couple of days ago about changing an environment and changing this, and changing that. It’s just been good for me, because you been the guy that showed me how to go through this and passing on it. No matter where you end up, if you’ve passed on that information, you’ll always be remembered by the people you helped.” And I’m sitting here quoting my dad because he’s that person to me.

Padres360 – I would guess then that you probably have been studying the pitchers that are now currently on the Padres roster. Your thoughts on working with pitching coach Darren Balsley.

Doug Bochtler – It’s very important that we have a singularity of voice with our pitchers between Darren, Andy, and myself. So we’re planning on starting things off – Listen, Darren has a relationship with these guys, I don’t. So of course I’m excited that I’m working with some of the best athletes in the world, yes that brings excitement to me. But it’s tempered by the fact that I know that relationships need to be built, and I know that what it is that I offer needs to line up with what Darren and Andy have for that individual player. I’m definitely excited to work with the guys, but also understand that Darren’s been with these guys. He knows them. He knows what they can handle. He knows where they’ve been.  We have to know Darren’s been taking this pitcher on a path. And Darren is an incredible pitching coach. He’s been taking his pitchers on this staff, as well as some of the new guys that we’re getting. But he started a path for these guys to greatness. And because he has the relationship and he started them on the path, I have to earn the trust of the player as well as understand his path before I come in and start trying to work with guys, essentially. So it’s a neat thing, it’s an exciting thing. I’m extremely excited to be working with these guys. But also you have to understand the dynamics of new guy coming in and understanding where the pitcher has been, as well as what he’s been taught, how does what I know help him, and then run it through Darren and make sure that everything lines up with the path that he’s taking them on. I’m not going to jump in there and say, “Hey! Here’s what we need to do!” A relationship that’s already been established and Darren has him on a path. It’s a good path and it’s trending the right way. So coming in, I’m excited to work with these guys. I’m excited to help. And I’m excited to be another pair of eyes for Darren. And some of the things that I know, that I have learned over my years of both coaching and playing, and be a benefit and a support of Darren.

Padres360 – We know you’ve probably known Andy through the Diamondback system, but you’re coming in here with him as his rookie year as manager on his staff. So how  do you see Andy relating to his learning curve of being his first time as a big league manager?

Doug Bochtler – Andy’s very progressive and he is willing to do anything to help his players succeed. And if it means training them a different way, preparing them a different way mentally – more of a game speed mentality – he’s the one that does things that have never been done in Major League Baseball. He was responsible for increasing the development curve of tons of players in the Diamondbacks organization. And making them get there quicker as well as more prepared to make an impact right away. Andy and I ironically have not ever been on a staff together. We ran an extended spring program one year in Arizona, but that’s it. We’ve actually never been on the same staff in any year subsequent. The one thing I do know about Andy is that he’s won everywhere he’s been and he does so because he’s very honest with the players and he lets them know up-front what he expects of them. And if they’re not doing those things, he will address them. And he does so in a very humble manner. He’s not an overbearing guy when he’s addressing things. He’s just being honest.“This is what needs to be done” “This is what’s not being done” “This is the path to fix it” “Let’s go tackle this thing.” “I want you to be as good as you can be.” So when it comes to his learning curve, I think he’s probably going to over-prepare.  I’ve never seen him go into a conversation and never seen him go into a meeting – whether it be organizational meetings or whatever – I’ve never seen him go into a situation underprepared. And when I heard that he got the job – and this is no offense to anyone that’s got to be included in anything right. There’s not a censor to anyone, but I think Andy Green, if you’re looking at what kind of WAR he’s going to bring, wins above a replacement as a manager. I’ve got to give this guy the highest mark that there is because now I know what that is. Mike Trout is what, a six WAR player? An eight WAR player? He’s that kind of manager because of the amount of preparation that he puts into it. There will not be a situation that takes him by surprise that’s already been played out. And I think his learning curve is going to be quick. I really do. I know how much he strives for greatness. I know how much he’s striving for excellence. We talk frequently and here’s an expression that gets bounced around between the two of us. The expression is that, “Excellence is not optional, it’s intentional.” That’s the way that he approaches every day. That’s the way I approach every day.

Paddres360 – Thank you for your time Doug.  We look forward to seeing you at Spring Training and getting a picture with you.

Doug Bochtler – Absolutely.

After spending 45 minutes on the phone with Doug, we were both elated to hear what he had to say.  Doug is a great man and the Padres players and organization are blessed to have him here.

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Posted in Padres Leadership, Padres Players

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