For more than 20 years, Juan Navarrete has played a key role in the Oakland Athletics Player Development Department, as a minor league manager, hitting instructor, infield instructor, base-running coach and bunting instructor. This season, Navarrete took on a new role as the A’s minor league defensive coordinator.
A member of the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame since 1998, Navarrete played professional baseball for 21 years. Donald Moore spoke with Navarrete during his stay with the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters earlier this season.
Donald Moore: Coach, how is everything going defensive wise this year on the Lake Monsters squad?
Juan Navarrete: You know, I think this year has been one of the best years for defense and it’s nice to watch our kids developing, and they show improvement, more maturity at higher levels and here at this short-season team. I think it has been one of the most talented teams that I have seen in the last few years. So it is nice too see first year players like Ryan Gridley, Aaron Arruda, Kevin Merrell and Will Toffey show good instincts and good actions, so I’m very pleased.
DM: Coach, you wear several hats for the A’s organization. What is your official job title with Oakland? And what do you specifically do for them?
JN: My job title is roving instructor. I go around the A’s minor league clubs and check on their defense, and I am the defense coordinator, so basically I work with the guys and I watch them to catch the ball and throw the ball properly.
DM: It must be a very interesting job to do what you do. So you basically split your time canvassing all of the A’s minor league affiliates and work a specific time period for each club?
JN: Oh yes. The seven teams we have in our minor league system. We have four to start the season for a full year, Beloit, Stockton, Midland and Nashville, then we have Vermont, we have Arizona and the Dominican program, so seven teams total that I have to go and check them out.
DM: Any plans for the off-season?
JN: Well, yes. Relax and enjoy my family because the off-season starts for me after the Instructional league, so with the Summer season over we have a two weeks break and then go back into action, go to the Instructional league in Arizona and then from there to the Dominican Republic. It’s a whole year, which makes life better.
DM: Coach, you have a passion for baseball and a wealth of knowledge of the game, and been involved in the sport a countless amount of years as a player, coach, instructor,and scout around the world. Have you ever envisioned a life besides baseball?
JN: Well I don’t think so. I don’t know anything else. I am going to apply to NASA, too, to see if they can use me, so maybe they can use me to play baseball for NASA, but other than that I don’t know anything else but baseball.
DM: I want to thank you for your time and it’s always a pleasure and an honor to speak with you.
JN: Same to you and thank you very much.
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