Advertisement
  1. Sports

Two ex-Phillies turn focus to coaching minor leaguers

Former Phillie Rob Ducey is the hitting coach for the Clearwater Threshers.
Published Jul. 22, 2015

CLEARWATER

When the playing days of Rob Ducey and Steve Schrenk ended, neither wanted to give up the game that they loved.

With their physical ability diminished, the logical next step was to continue their careers on the coaching side of baseball.

"This is what I've done my whole life ever since I was 5, was baseball, so it was part of my life," Schrenk said. "I just want to continue it, work with kids, get them better."

Now the former Phillies teammates are teaching the game that they love with Philadelphia's Advanced-A affiliate— Schrenk as the Clearwater Threshers' pitching coach and Ducey as the hitting coach.

Once his career came to a close, Clearwater was Schrenk's first coaching job, while Ducey has had stops in the player development departments of Montreal, New York, Toronto, Tampa Bay and Arizona.

For both, the most challenging aspect of the adjustment from playing to coaching was learning to focus on their group of players instead of their own individual roles.

"I think that's the biggest thing probably, learning how to teach in different ways and what works for each guy individually," Schrenk said. "In essence, when you're playing, you worry about yourself and your team and you kind of worry about what you're doing. Now you're in charge of taking care of everybody."

And at times, "everybody" can be a lot of people.

During spring training, Ducey and Schrenk, along with five other pitching and hitting coaches in the Philadelphia organization, are responsible for 180 players. And the coaching staff still is expected to maintain an individual relationship with each player.

"The organization builds a database as far as player movement from city to city, and the notes that are carried on from the hitting coaches and managers and pitching coaches that have had the player in the past," Ducey said. "There's constant communication between the levels … making sure that we as a staff know the individual player that's coming in."

That knowledge will include more than just the players' certain skill set. Ducey and Schrenk try to know each of the Threshers' on a more personal level.

"We have to teach them not only how to be accountable on the field, but off the field," Schrenk said.

But that comes in addition to the extensive amount of time Schrenk and Ducey spend working with players on the fundamentals of the game.

Ducey's day begins in the cages doing individual work with players looking to make adjustments. Once that ends, it's time for stretching and batting practice on the field where Ducey leads players through fielding and base-running drills as well.

Schrenk's pitchers start each game day by throwing bullpen sessions. After helping shag balls during batting practice, Schrenk schools his staff on the mental side of the game.

"There's probably some mental stuff for us as far as the pitching, getting ready, mentally learning how to pitch guys and what we might do with sequences and stuff like that," Schrenk said.

When players learn from these teaching moments and move on to the organization's next level, it gives Ducey and Schrenk their greatest feeling of accomplishment.

"That's why we're here," Ducey said. "They assign these players that have very good physical ability and it's our job to teach them how to be major-league players."

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Astros manager A.J. Hinch answers questions during a news conference before Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. FRANK FRANKLIN II  |  AP
    A.J. Finch calls the accusations, including one of his team signaling by whistling, a “joke.”
  2. Osceola remains unbeaten on the season and claims the district crown. CHUCK FRYE  |  Special to the Times
    The Warriors keep a smaller Boca Ciega squad guessing while winning in straight sets.
  3. Wiregrass Ranch hitter Kayla McCarter celebrates after a 25-18, 25-13, 25-22 victory over Sunlake in the Class 6A, District 5 final.  SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The Bulls dispatch top seeds East Lake and Sunlake en route to the Class 6A-5 title.
  4. Volleyball teams around Tampa Bay are in action for districts this week. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The Hurricanes claim another district title and, perhaps more importantly in a tough region, a first-round game at home.
  5. Keswick Christian, pictured here with coach Karrmayne King earlier this season, tops Academy at the Lakes in the district final. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The Crusaders top Academy at the Lakes to secure their first region appearance since 2015.
  6. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Mathieu Joseph (7) scores against Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) ELISE AMENDOLA  |  AP
    They outplayed Boston five on five in the shootout win but were lacking on the power play and penalty kill.
  7. Calvary Christian celebrates after beating Clearwater Central Catholic for a district volleyball title. RODNEY PAGE  |  Times
    The Warriors will be the top seed in the Class 3A region volleyball tournament that begins next week.
  8. Volleyball teams around Tampa Bay are in action for districts this week. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The Panthers weren’t underestimating Palm Harbor University, which took out the top seed in the semifinals.
  9. Jon Cooper and Derek Lalonde addressed the Boston College hockey team at Chestnut Hill on Wednesday. Courtesy of Boston College
    Eagles’ Hockey Hall of Fame-bound coach Jerry York invited Cooper to speak to his team
  10. Baseball playoffs and more sports on the air.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement