Bench coach more than just 'numbers guy'
February, 28, 2014
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezNew Rangers bench coach Tim Bogar has already built rapport with manager Ron Washington.
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- New Texas Rangers bench coach Tim Bogar scoffs at the notion that he’s all about analytics, ready to help navigate manager Ron Washington and his team through a game armed with a thick, three-ring binder and a head full of stats.
“I use that information for sure,” Bogar said. “It’s very beneficial. But it’s only part of the big picture. It’s more paying attention to what’s pertinent to the situation. You learn your players and what they can do and what the other team is doing and you put your players in the best position possible.
“To sit there and go over a spreadsheet and pick out numbers, that’s not who I am. It’s more about the players.”
But Bogar’s attention to detail and his understanding of how those numbers can aid the skipper during a game are critical components as key decisions are made. To be in the best position to make those kinds of recommendations, Bogar not only has to get to know the players, but also the man he’s sitting beside in the dugout. Already, Bogar and Washington say there’s plenty of rapport and chemistry between them.
Perhaps the biggest sign of the level of communication is that even the postgame celebration ritual has been discussed. Washington wouldn’t say whether a hug would be involved, like it was with Jackie Moore.
“I think what he and I are going to end up doing is we’re going to shock the world,” Washington said with a smile. “We’re working on it right now. The first win of the season, watch what we do. We’re working on it.”
Bogar’s responsibilities include organizing spring training, which means making sure every player knows where he is going and what he is doing during the morning workout period. To be sure everything is in place, Bogar is arriving at the complex as early as 4:15 a.m., and is one of the last to leave. His color-coded schedule chart is a must-have for Rangers’ personnel as they figure out how the day is structured.
“He’s sharp. He’s on it. He’s on top of it and he’s in my ear all the time,” Washington said.
The two spend much of the day together, especially now that Cactus League games have begun. Bogar is thankful to have the opportunity to discuss game-like situations with Washington before the season begins in earnest.
“It’s awesome to understand strategy and what his philosophies are,” Bogar said. “I need to get on his page and understand what I can tell him that he’s going to use and what he wants to hear. He’s ultimately got the final decision, so I try to give him nuggets that might help him in the long run. That’s the biggest thing to watch the games together and understand how he likes to run a game.”
There’s already a mutual respect between the two, which goes back decades to the fact the Washington coached Bogar in the minors and Washington has watched Bogar’s rise through the coaching ranks, which included stops in Tampa and Boston working with Joe Maddon and Terry Francona.
“When we talk, he knows when I feel strongly about something,” Bogar said of Washington. “We’ll be sitting there and I’ll bring something to him and he’ll say, ‘You’re probably right. Let’s go with that.’ That’s the respect of it. That makes me feel like I can go to him with anything. He decides if that’s what’s best for the ball club and that’s a good thing.”
Bogar won’t be afraid to employ a defensive shift, something he utilized in his previous stops. But don’t expect a constant barrage of them, either.
“The biggest thing is to put the players in the best positions possible,” Bogar said. “If our pitchers are more likely to pitch a hitter in a certain spot and they’re more likely to hit it somewhere, we’re going to try to be in that spot. We’re not reinventing the game. It’s just common sense. Our pitchers will dictate where we’re going to play.
“I’m excited to get going.”