Ron Wotus

Giants' Ron Wotus to honor high school coach at 'Coaching Corps' Awards

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USATSI

Giants' Ron Wotus to honor high school coach at 'Coaching Corps' Awards

When the Giants take the field next month at Scottsdale Stadium, Ron Wotus will begin his 23rd consecutive season on the big league coaching staff, a feat that is impressive for much more than simple longevity. 

Wotus was the only member of Bruce Bochy's staff to be brought back by Gabe Kapler. Before that he jumped from Felipe Alou to Bochy, and Dusty Baker to Alou. He is working with his fourth Giants manager because of a commitment to hard work, preparation, communication and competitiveness, traits that Wotus first started to hone as a star at Bacon Academy in Colchester, Conn.

Wotus has spent most of his life in professional baseball, but the skillset that he still leans on today first became a part of his life on a different patch of grass. He carries with him the lessons taught by John McKiernan, his high school soccer coach. 

"I have such great memories of playing soccer. It was by far my favorite sport, and it's because of John," Wotus said. "If he wasn't my coach, there's no way it would have been my favorite sport. He's special. He knows how to connect, he knows how to relate, he's got a great sense of humor, he's super-competitive, but he's got that great balance that all the good ones have. And he cares."

Wotus has spent his professional life helping to develop players like Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik and Brandon Belt, and on Thursday night he'll get a chance to honor the man who taught him so much of what he still passes on. Wotus will honor McKiernan at the sixth annual Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards, which will air Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area. 

When Wotus was called and asked to honor an instrumental coach in his life, he immediately turned to his wife, Laurie. He knew what he wanted to do.

"I got emotional and she immediately said, 'You have to honor John,'" Wotus said. "This is over 45 years ago that we met. All these years that have passed, you really realize how important he was to your life."

Wotus met McKiernan in middle school, and the latter immediately knew that there was something different about the young boy who would go on to play four years of varsity baseball, soccer and basketball at Bacon Academy, a small school with a graduating class of about 100 students. 

"You could see (in fifth grade) that he was very gifted," McKiernan said. "He lit up the room when he was in it ... He was always so happy to be on the field or the court or the diamond. He just loved athletics and he loved competing and he was always prepared and ready to go. Whatever we were doing he seemed to enjoy, except maybe he didn't like all the running we did in soccer. I think he could have done without that."

All that running still sticks with Wotus four-plus decades later. He remembers McKiernan's soccer team doing heavy conditioning work. It was necessary for the small-school team. 

"What he said to us was that we may not have the most skill on the field, but we'll be the best conditioned and we'll make up for any lack of skill that we have," Wotus said. "That stuck with me. Don't be out-conditioned, don't be outworked, don't be out-prepared. I think that's the foundation of my approach as a coach. You have to give it your all and you're going to prepare. It's the preparation that's important, and then you go out and compete."

The competing part was easy for Wotus, a three-sport star. McKiernan coached the junior varsity basketball team but never had Wotus there because he was put on varsity right away, eventually earning all-state honors. The Pirates selected Wotus in the 16th round of the 1979 draft and he ended up playing 32 games in the big leagues. It was on the soccer field, however, that Wotus made his biggest prep impact. He was an All-New England center forward for Bacon, scoring 89 career goals, which stood as a state record for more than two decades. 

McKiernan remembers Wotus for much more than the prolific numbers. He said Wotus constantly pushed to make sure his teammates were recognized and brought intensity no matter the score.

"He never thought that we were out of a game," McKiernan said.

Wotus matched his production with dependability. 

In four years, he never missed a practice in any of his three sports, and he sat out just one game in his high school career, the result of a sprained ankle. With a tournament coming up, McKiernan held his star out of the final game of the season so he could get back to 100 percent. 

"He tried to sneak into the game a few times," McKiernan said. "I had to pull him back."

The relationship that was built during soccer practices and hundreds of games of horse on the basketball court has lasted to this day. McKiernan has been out to San Francisco a couple of times to visit Wotus, who was the bench coach for all three title teams. Occasionally he'll plan a cross-country road trip that allows him to visit Wotus in a visiting city. 

Wotus is getting ready for his 33rd year in the Giants organization. Before he gets back to baseball, he'll take a moment to honor the man who made such an impact during his soccer career. It was an easy choice to give the award to McKiernan.

"John, he was the guy. The way I coach now, I think of him often," Wotus said. "I try to emulate him in a lot of ways."

You can donate to the "Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards," here

“Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards” presented by Levi’s airs Tuesday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area

Giants' Gabe Kapler explains philosophy behind youthful coaching staff

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Giants' Gabe Kapler explains philosophy behind youthful coaching staff

SAN DIEGO -- For years, putting together a big-league coaching staff has almost been like checking items off a well-worn list. There's the bench coach, pitching coach and hitting coach, with coaches also at first base and third. There's a bullpen coach and an assistant hitting coach, in most cases.

The Giants appear poised to throw much of that out, joining other organizations that have taken a more collaborative approach. They could have three different variations of a hitting coach, with sources telling NBC Sports Bay Area that Seattle Mariners Director of Hitting Dustin Lind is expected to join Donnie Ecker and Justin Viele. 

Gabe Kapler said Monday that the Giants are almost done putting together the hitting side, but the pitching side of the staff is still a work in progress and could "go in a couple different directions." Brian Bannister will be the Director of Pitching but the Giants still are talking to other candidates, many of whom are from the college ranks, and could have a non-traditional setup in terms of pitching coaches, as well. 

Giants executives did a thorough examination of the clubhouse and dugout after the season, talking to some core players, and determined that they needed more energy in the dugout. All of the leaked hires thus far are on the young end, with little to no big-league experience. Viele, for instance, was coaching hitting in A-ball last season. Ecker isn't far removed from Los Altos High and Lind was with the Mariners for just two seasons. In addition to energy and new techniques, Kapler expects something else. 

"The philosophy would be collaboration and working together as a team rather than working in individual silos," Kapler said. "Sometimes you can have a hitting coach that doesn't want to bring people in and work as a group to make really good decisions for the hitters or give hitters really good feedback. What we're trying to design is a team of coaches where we're inviting each other into our spaces to have meaningful conversations about how to get players better. We're encouraging debate and back-and-forth conversations to get the best possible outcome for the players."

There are two more known hires. Ron Wotus will be the third base coach and sources told NBC Sports Bay Area that Kai Correa, formerly of the Cleveland Indians, will coach first and work with the infielders. Correa, like the other new hires, has a strong reputation within the industry. 

[RELATED: Giants expect to add starting pitcher at Winter Meetings]

Kapler said he also will have a bench coach -- the exact title may be different -- to lean on during games. 

"There's going to be somebody, without question, who is on the bench as part of our staff that is kind of a partner to me from a game strategy perspective," Kapler said. "I'll always lean on a bench coach and pitching coach to make in-game decisions."

MLB rumors: Hensley Meulens joins Mets staff after decade with Giants

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AP

MLB rumors: Hensley Meulens joins Mets staff after decade with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Two years after he was a finalist to be the Yankees manager, Hensley Meulens is headed to New York. 

Meulens, a longtime member of Bruce Bochy's staff, will be the bench coach for new Mets manager Carlos Beltran, according to multiple reports, including Jennifer Mercedes of La Vida Baseball. Meulens had interviewed last month to be Giants manager but he was not going to be on Gabe Kapler's staff. 

Meulens, 52, joined the Giants as hitting coach in 2010 and spent the last two seasons as their bench coach. The Giants moved him to that position in part to give him a better shot of getting managerial gigs, but Meulens is still waiting for the call he has long dreamt of. Taking the Mets job should help Meulens, who has had success managing in the World Baseball Classic, accomplish his goal. 

Beltran has no experience as a manager, and should the Mets succeed, Meulens should benefit from being the No. 2 man in the sport's biggest market. He also has found in recent years that it has been somewhat difficult to get interviews because most of his connections were in San Francisco, and taking a job with the Mets will widen that circle. 

Meulens and Ron Wotus were the two internal candidates to interview for the job that ultimately went to Kapler.

[RELATED: How Scott Harris' love for transactions made him right fit for Giants

Wotus also interviewed to be the bench coach for the Mets, but he pulled out of the running when it became apparent he could stay in San Francisco and be on Kapler's staff. Meulens was thought to be headed to the Marlins, but he withdrew from that opportunity around the time the Giants hired Kapler. 

Meulens is the third member of Bochy's staff to find a new job elsewhere. Former bullpen coach Matt Herges will be pitching coach for the Diamondbacks and former hitting coach Alonzo Powell took a job with a team in Japan.