Brian Poldberg, the new Omaha Storm Chasers manager, met with the media in Omaha for the first time Wednesday afternoon at Werner Park. I shot video of the press conference, which you can see below.
He fielded questions about his managerial style, the differences he expects to see from Double-A to Triple-A (he managed the Double-A NW Arkansas Naturals for the past six seasons), Yordano Ventura's progress, the up and coming talent in the Royals system and more.
After the press conference, he met with the print media for a few more questions:
Who was your favorite manager to play for (he played in Yankees and Royals minor league systems in the early to mid-'80s)?
I'd say [Gene] Lamont. Geno was a players' manager. He knew when to have fun and he knew when to be serious. Joe Sparks was interesting. Stump Merrill was interesting. I had Johnny Oates. I had a lot of guys who ended up managing in the big leagues. I think you take bits and pieces of all these guys - and there are things that you liked and things you didn't like, and you remember the things you didn't like as a player and you try to incorporate that into your style.
Buddy Bell, when I was in the big leagues [as a coach, in 2007], was one of my favorite guys as far as just his demeanor and how he handled things. I learned that you would like to have the players control the locker room instead of having to go in there and you do that, so that's where the veteran presence really becomes a big issue.
Some guys, like a Christian Colon, get to this level and begin to press. As a high draft pick he feels the pressure to perform. What can you and your staff do to help a guy like him?
The biggest thing is, you've got to continue to communicate with him, and say "Hey, just go out there and relax. Do what got you this far because your game is still the same. You are probably a .280 or .290 hitter, so be that type of hitter."
He's a guy who needs to hit behind the runner. He's got to play small ball. He'll hit a few home runs, but he's a smart kid and he knows what his role is and he's got to stay in that role. You've got to keep patting him on the back because this is a hard game. It's a game of failure. As a hitter, if you fail 70% of the time, you're one of the best hitters.
The toughest thing is when a kid has a bad April and they are looking up every day and seeing .180 on the scoreboard, but they have to forget about that because they aren't going to be able to get out of that hole in one day. It's a long grind and you've got to do it over the long haul. It'll come back up if you allow yourself to do the things you're supposed to do.
Colon expects a lot of himself. I'm sure he was hoping to get called up in September and it didn't happen ... In spring training, I know he played second a lot and he did a good job over there. He's still going to have to put his time in. There's really nobody at second base up there who - Bonifacio did a great job for us late, so maybe he's the guy you start with, but that job is still up in the air for me.
Social media can be a distraction for some players - even at this level if they are struggling to produce, can't it? The criticism is immediate.
It can be crazy. Even when you leave the ballpark and you're out somewhere and do something out of the ordinary, everybody's got a phone with a camera. You've got to be very leery of the things you do because it can be on Facebook in a matter of seconds, so it can be a lot harder for these young kids.
But they create their own problems at times, too. They want to be in the limelight, well, if you want to be in the limelight, you've got to be willing to live with the consequences.