GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Vince Coleman still moves quickly.
The former steals king, in spring training camp to work with White Sox runners, has already earned a lot of attention with his energetic, direct approach.
He’s trying to fix a part of the game that’s slowed Chicago in recent years. Coleman is full of confidence, and says that’s perhaps the most important trait for would-be basestealers to possess.
Article continues below ...
Given this chance by White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, Coleman said, ”I’m so tickled pink to be here.”
”It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and I know that with my work ethic and my personality, we’re going to get a lot accomplished this year,” he said.
Coleman is sixth on the career steals list with 752. He’ll work with White Sox runners in camp, and help with minor leaguers during the season.
Chicago was ninth among the 15 AL teams with 85 stolen bases last year. Alexei Ramirez led the White Sox with 21 while Adam Eaton, a standout in other areas after arriving from Arizona in a trade, stole only 15 and was caught nine times.
Eaton, who dealt with injuries but at other times seemed to lack confidence in his running game, is certainly ready for a fresh start.
”I’m really going to enjoy my time with him,” the center fielder said of Coleman. ”Everything he told me really spoke to me and I think we’re going to have a really good relationship. I’m very excited about it.”
Coleman was looking forward to it, too.
”What he did (last season) don’t mean anything to me,” Coleman said. ”I’ve exposed him to his weaknesses, he’s aware of that, why he got thrown out.”
”He’s excited about it because he knows what his weaknesses were. He was in fear. When you get picked off or thrown out a couple of times, you kind of doubt yourself. Now, his confidence is high because things have changed and he can’t wait for the season to start,” he said.
As a basestealer, Coleman had no fear. He led the NL in swipes in each of his first six seasons. He stole 110 in 1985 as the Rookie of the Year with the pennant-winning St. Louis Cardinals.
”I stole 752 bases throughout my career and I wasn’t scared one time. That’s the mentality,” said Coleman, who caught 177 times. ”If they get thrown out, they get picked off, it’s not for the fact of lack of confidence. It’s just for the fact of understanding why that happened.”
”You’re going to make mistakes, that’s the way you get better and that’s the way you gain knowledge and experience,” he said. ”What they have not had was someone to come in and tell them why they got picked off. Never give the opposition credit. It’s for me to go out and analyze them and critique them and make them better.”
Coleman isn’t in camp just to help with the speed guys. He is interested in helping everyone maximize their efforts on the basepaths.
”The most important part of the game, the most intricate part of the game, I would say, is baserunning,” Coleman said. ”When you can go from first to third, score from second on all base hits and break up double plays … and you don’t have to be fast to be a great baserunner. You just have to be smart, alert and aggressive.”
”If you want to be great, it’s a process, day to day,” he said.
Manager Robin Ventura stole 24 bases in his 16-year playing career and admits that he ”wouldn’t know” what the basestealing mentality is. He’s glad to have Coleman around as an instructor.
”You get a guy with his expertise and what he’s done in the game, I think he can also deliver it,” Ventura said. ”The things that he sees and senses, he’s going quite in-depth about how to do it, things to look for. We’re very fortunate to have him out there.”
”It puts pressure on the other team when you have guys who can steal a base. There’s always a way to put pressure on guys,” he said.