06/09/11 8:00 PM ET
Interim skipper Melvin embraces A's history
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
Take his jersey No. 6, for example, which Melvin was sporting during his introductory press conference at U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday, where he was introduced as Oakland's interim manager for the remainder of the 2011 season.
Melvin replaces Bob Geren, who was relieved of his duties by A's vice president and general manager Billy Beane, with Oakland in the throes of a nine-game losing streak. As for that jersey number, it's a tribute to one of the more accomplished players in A's franchise history and what he meant to Melvin's career.
"For captain Sal Bando of the Swingin' A's," said Melvin of the jersey choice. "(Before) I wore No. 3 in honor of Phil Garner. He and Sal brought me into Milwaukee together.
"[I] cut my teeth as a bench coach, became a manager and wanted to honor him. I felt like it was apropos the situation being here in Oakland to wear this number. I'll wear it very pridefully, if that's a word."
The 49-year-old grew up in Menlo Park, Calif., attended the University of California at Berkley and resides in Palo Alto.
This marks Melvin's third big league managerial job. During the 2003 and 2004 seasons, he ran the Seattle Mariners and posted a 93-69 mark in his debut campaign. He was then the man at the helm of the D-Backs from 2005 through 29 games in 2009, amassing a record of 493-508. The 337 victories posted in Arizona make Melvin the franchise's all-time leader in that category, to go with a division title in 2007.
But his impact goes well beyond the numbers. A couple of players from the White Sox, the first team Melvin will be managing against, can attest to his nature as a players' manager.
"I only had him for half a season and a couple of Spring Trainings, but he was always, always positive to be around," said left-handed reliever Matt Thornton, who played for Melvin in Seattle. "He always supported and pushed his players. He asks you to play the game hard and play the game right. I don't know how it's going to work out over there, but it's a good addition for them obviously."
"He's one of the great baseball people and I can't speak on how much I enjoyed playing for him in the short amount of time," said White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn, who was with Melvin in Arizona for 44 games in 2008. "Everybody on that team really, really, really liked him a lot. Guys over there are going to really like him and he's a really good baseball man. It's hard to get 25 guys to like a manager, but players just really loved him."
Geren didn't seem to engender such love from his players. He was named the A's manager on Nov. 17, 2006, and finished at 334-376 in four-plus seasons. That total includes the current 27-36 ledger and last-place standing in the American League West.
Beane admitted there's never a good time to make a managerial change, especially in-season. But he said he felt as if the time was right for the move. His previous knowledge and high respect for Melvin made this process a relatively quick one to bring him aboard.
"Our relationship is how this thing was able to come together so quickly," Melvin said. "This is a difficult situation. It was difficult for Billy. It's going to be difficult for everybody involved here. It came together so quickly because we've know each other for so long and have so much respect for each other, knows what the other one's strengths are. It was an easy couple of conversations, then it was done. I don't know that there are too many people in the game, at least for me, that something could have happened this quickly."
"This is always a difficult situation.," Beane said. "It's disruptive to everybody. It has been a crazy day for all of us. The team itself had a very difficult travel schedule, as did other people involved here, including Bob. Once again, it's not in the handbook, replacing a manager in the middle of the season. So it's new for me. I think it's new for Bob, so we're kind of learning on the run a little bit."
In regard to getting up to speed on the AL West, Melvin will rely on the coaching staff he inherited in the move. As for his knowledge of the Oakland players, Melvin mentioned managing Conor Jackson in Arizona and how Brian Fuentes "was a pain in my butt" when he was pitching for the Rockies and Melvin was with the D-backs.
Fuentes was one of the recent outspoken critics of Geren's managerial style. Now, he will be joining with Melvin to try to get the A's back in contention.
Asked if the A's can get back in the race, Melvin said: "Absolutely. Look at what happened to the Diamondbacks this year. The focus is going to be to slow it down, back it up and play day to day. Don't worry about what happened yesterday, don't worry about what happens tomorrow.
"Let's focus on today. Have the energy there each and every day. Once you focus on that particular day, all the trials and tribulations and some of the things that can play into a baseball player over the course of 162 games, can really mount on you. Certainly we want to slow that down and just worry about today."