PHOENIX – There’s nothing quite like seeing a few of the old-timers around, especially as one creeps towards old-time status oneself.
So it was nice to run across Rickey Henderson and Dave Stewart today with the A’s. I covered them when they were crucial parts of the A’s championship run 1988-1990 (Rickey didn’t land back in Oakland until 1989, but you get the point).
Stew is now an agent with a small stable of players and has coached the same kids’ team in the San Diego area for the last four years. He brought most of the team and the kids’ parents onto the field where Henderson, who is in the A’s camp as a base stealing mentor for a few days, batting coach Chili Davis and manager Bob Melvin all addressed the group.
“I still love working with the kids,’’ Stewart said. “you can’t imagine how much fun that is for me.’’
Stew is in his element with kids, and in his own way, so is Henderson. Rickey has kids who are students at Arizona State so he’d be down for a trip to spring training anyway, but he comes it for a week or more to work with the A’s and their minor leaguers, all of whom he refers to as “kids’’.
Talking about the current generation of players, Henderson said “I wonder if they get too much information. They get all these scouting reports and video and then they go out and hit .240. We didn’t have that, and if we hit .240, we’d wonder if we were going to get sent down, or even released.’’
Henderson, who is around the A’s clubhouse occasionally during the regular season, knows most of the Oakland players, but one new A’s face, shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, came over and introduced himself to Henderson, who returned Nakajima’s deep bow, as per Japanese custom.
What Nakajima didn’t know is that Henderson would be seeking him out later. Henderson’s father-in-law is a fan of Nakajima’s and wants his autograph, “so I’m on a mission to get that,’’ Henderson said, laughing.