What are your thoughts on Trevor Hoffman failing to make the Hall-of-Fame on the first ballot?
You know I played for parts of six seasons in the big leagues and you knew the guys that there should have been another league these guys play in. To say that Trevor Hoffman didn’t belong on the first try is a slap in the face. He belonged in on the first ballot. I was disappointed he did not get it, but I am also confident he will get in eventually.
What are your thoughts and impressions of A.J. Preller?
The first thing that impressed me about him was his intellect. If you are around the game for a long time, there are a lot of peoples whose mind doesn’t work like that guys does. I was extremely impressed with how he was able to compartmentalized his thoughts and stay focused on all those departments and not allow one to affect the other. When you look at he’s a guy who has a baseball mind and has the guts to go away from what is the norm. He is willing to take chances and make moves that he feels are right. He also has surrounded himself with brilliant people.
You were known as a player who kept the team loose. Talk to me about the importance of having fun while playing the game.
The game is supposed to be fun. Obviously its way more fun if you win ballgames. If you are taking care of your work and disciplined yourself to do your job then its okay to have a little bit of levity. There is no reason that it is doom and gloom.
What was it like seeing Trevor Hoffman first hand and witnessing his routine and preparation?
You watch Trevor’s routine and it was very disciplined. He never changed it. He never varied from it. He had it down. For a lot of young guys that are first coming up it’s about establishing a routine that works for you and that involves trial and error. I should be able to pass that on to the current bullpen we have (2016 Padre). Especially the younger guys on the squad. It’s about helping them prepare to go out there and do their job on a daily basis and the fact it is a bit of a grind.
Talk to us about your time in the Arizona Diamondback organization. How was that time for you?
My five plus years in Arizona was awesome. The first year I was fortunate enough to be very forgiving for when I screwed up as well as being there to teach me things I had no concept of. You don’t think about these things very often, but as coaches we use Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Excel spread sheets very often. I had never even opened the program before. So there were lots of behind the scenes, off the field stuff that I needed to learn. I was fortunate enough to have a mentor there in Gil Heredia. He was great for me. I also had Mel Stottlemyre Jr. as my first boss within the organization. It was great. I knew the teaching and on the field stuff wasn’t going to be an issue for me. It was the organizational skills that I needed to improve on.
What is it like working with kids and especially at your facility, Cherokee Baseball in Knoxville?
I still do that right now. I love it. Its something that I don’t know if I could ever give up. You develop a relationship with the kids, you watch the kids get better. You form bonds with them that are unbreakable. It’s the one chance where you have time to impact their life and 10 years later the kids come back to you, and they might even be playing baseball anymore, but they tell you that you were the coach that taught them baseball could be fun and how to prepare. It’s an aspect of who I am that I don’t ever want to change. It’s a pleasure to do. I have worked with this kid in the past since he was 11 years old. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to watch him pitch against us at a professional level. It’s pretty neat.
What was your interaction with Andy Green prior to this season? What are your thoughts on him?
Well we both came in as first year coaches together in the Arizona system. We did have the opportunity to spend some time together in extended spring training. You could obviously recognize right away that Andy was a guy who was willing to do anything possible to give the players the best chance to develop. It didn’t matter if it meant more time for him, it didn’t matter if it meant changing the status quo. The players were going to get better. The players had the best chance to work efficiently as they needed to work and also get the amount of required reps at a faster manner. He kind of took to me a little bit as far as my willingness to do whatever it takes to get the players to perform better. That’s what it is about. When you are on the this side of the field, players need to get better and perform better and once that is accomplished the team almost takes care of itself.
You were known for your magician skills while with the Padres, are you still practicing magic?
I actually don’t really. I don’t have much of an audience for it anymore. I did a little bit for my kids when they were younger but no I don’t have much of an audience and I let my skills deteriorate so to speak. I will teach the young kids in the bullpen if one of them wants to take up the craft.
Any special stories or thoughts about Tony Gwynn?
People ask me what the highlight of my career. Winning the National League West in 1996 was huge. That was big thing with the way we happened to win it by going in and sweeping L.A. in Dodgers stadium. But I look back to my major league debut and going out on the mound and before delivering my first pitch it was a habit of mine to look at the defense and see if they are in position. You can’t have a major league debut without looking out to right field and seeing Tony Gwynn standing there. That was pretty special. You know Tony was a guy that treated me extremely well. Even after my tenure with the Padres was over, he and his wife Alicia would still send us gifts, and in fact we have a quilt that she made for our family. There very good people. You know when I came up there (the major leagues) it was still that whole… don’t talk to him because he’s a rookie thing. Tony was never like that, he never played those games. We always felt the respect. You know he commanded respect but never demanded respect. That’s the difference between a classy player like him opposed to some of the veterans that didn’t handle it quite the way he did. That’s how I look at Tony Gwynn. He didn’t demand respect, but he got it. He was a good dude, man.
What are your thoughts on the PED era in major league baseball?
I would have to say its a bit of a black eye in a great sport. You shouldn’t judge eras necessarily on things like that. You can’t compare the numbers of Babe Ruth to say Hank Aaron. With medicine advancement, it only benefits the players in modern times. How good would some of these old timers have been if they were able to and allowed to take some modern anti-inflammatory medicine that allowed you to pitch everyday? The advancement in nutrition alone is huge, you just compare one era to another. The PED era was a time when a lot of people knew what was going on and a lot of people turned their backs to it. Not just the players. Its something that is in our past. We have done well to advance testing now to make sure we have a clean game. There are always going to be people who try to cheat it. It’s the same is every sport.
What are your thoughts on your former manager Bruce Bochy and the success he has attained? Have you had any interaction with him recently?
I have, we had dinner last year during spring training. He was a rookie manager the year I was a rookie in the league. He did a lot of learning that year and was almost quiet. In 1996 that is when Bruce Bochy became the manager he is today. He had a better feel for how things were supposed to work, for how they were supposed to look. He knew how much he could say, how much he needed to say. He learned when to stay quiet and when to push us. He taught me a lot by how he used us. He was extremely insightful and extremely disciplined on how he used us in the bullpen. To see the amount of success he has had as a manager doesn’t surprise me having played for him.
Mr. Bochtler left me with these last few comments regarding Bruce Bochy and an Andy Green connection in managerial styles:
” You will see that too with this cat we got now (Andy Green). I’m telling you. He’s won everywhere he has been. He is one of the brightest guys I know in the game of baseball. He cares about people and its genuine and when people see that they recognize it, because it’s not an act.”
After hearing that about Andy Green and the potential of this season with the new skipper, you should be very excited about the future of this franchise. We would once again like to thank Doug Bochtler for taking the time out of his hectic schedule to speak with us. You may follow him @Bochtler on Twitter. Go Padres!!!
James was born and raised in America’s Finest City. He is a passionate baseball fan with even more passion towards his hometown Padres. Editor-In-Chief of EastVillageTimes.com. Always striving to bring you the highest quality in San Diego Sports News. Original content, with original ideas, that’s our motto. Enjoy.