For the better part of the last three-plus decades, Andy Etchebarren has been involved in coaching.
Like anyone else, the York Revolution manager had to get his start in the profession somewhere. Etchebarren's start came in 1977 with the California Angels, when the longtime major league catcher was a spry 34 years old.
So, he can likely relate to what 35-year-old infielder Liu Rodriguez is going through in his first year as a player-coach for the Revs.
In his fourth year playing for York, Rodriguez is also the second official player in Revs' history to assume the double-duty gig. Although he's only had the role for the last month-and-a-half, Rodriguez already knows he's gonna like coaching.
"I'm so happy.
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Defense: Should the Venezuela native have a long coaching career, like Etchebarren, perhaps the first success story he can point to as a coach will be the work he has done with Revs' second baseman Andres Perez.
While Perez has been tearing it up at the plate, batting .312 with four homers, 15 RBIs and 24 runs scored in 40 games, his infield skills haven't been as sharp. Perez and York first baseman Chris Nowak are tied for the Atlantic League lead in errors with nine each.
But Perez has improved over the last couple of weeks, thanks largely to defensive advice from Rodriguez.
"(Rodriguez) has really helped Perez at second base, especially with his throwing," Etchebarren said. "His throwing is so much improved and that's because Liu has been taking him out and helping him."
Hot hitting: A former major leaguer with the Chicago White Sox in 1999, the veteran infielder is also experiencing quite a turnaround at the plate this season.
Two years ago Rodriguez helped York capture its first Atlantic League title by hitting .296 in 121 regular-season games, while also collecting five RBIs in eight playoff games. But he dropped down to a .231 average in 75 regular-season games last season.
In 28 games so far this year, the former major leaguer is batting an impressive .326 with a homer, 13 RBIs and 15 runs scored.
"As a player-coach I'm more relaxed," he said. "I'm trying to help my teammates, either in the batting cage or on the field. That's made me more relaxed and I can see the results."
Rodriguez said he'll likely play for a few more seasons. He shouldn't have a problem doing that if his current pace at the plate keeps up.
In the meantime, Rodriguez will continue to learn from Etchebarren in an effort to prepare himself for the time when he becomes a full-time coach.
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.