Dave Hudgens began his coaching career in 1985 within the Oakland Athletics organization and has held various positions with various teams over the years. Bench coach was not one of them, though, until he was hired by the Toronto Blue Jays in November as the team overhauled its staff.
Hudgens most recently served as hitting coach with the Houston Astros, winning a World Series in 2017, but he’s about to embark on his first foray into being a bench coach.
So, what exactly does the job entail? Hudgens made an appearance on Prime Time Sports Wednesday where he broke down his new role.
“It’s a lot of different facets,” Hudgens told Bob McCown and Stephen Brunt. “I managed down in Venezuela for about five years in Caracas, Venezuela (with the Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League) so I’ve managed before and I think what I perceive the bench coach [to be] is really a resource for the manger.”
The Blue Jays replaced John Gibbons with new manager Charlie Montoyo, whom Hudgens has never previously worked with.
“The manager’s got a lot of things he’s thinking about,” Hudgens continued. “He’s locked into what’s going on. I feel my job’s going to be to look maybe an inning or two ahead to what might happen, maybe give him some feedback, some information when he wants it. It’s a lot of different things. Preparation before the game. Maybe understanding the information coming from the front office, the analytics team and sharing that with the coaches. It’s a lot of different areas.
“It’s different than being a hitting coach, which I’ve done for about the last 12 years in the major leagues. I’ve done that. I’ve managed in Venezuela. I know what I wanted out of my bench coach down there when I managed so I’m going to try to do what Charlie needs to be done No. 1, and what I feel should be done.”
The Blue Jays finished a disappointing 73-89 in 2018, missing the post-season for a second straight year following back-to-back trips to the ALCS.
Expectations for Toronto’s 2019 squad aren’t sky high, but Hudgens said he sees plenty of similarities between what the Blue Jays are currently doing and what the Astros were doing when he joined that organization back in 2015. That year’s edition of the Astros surprised many when they made a run to the post-season, beat the Yankees in the wild-card round and then pushed the eventual World Series-champion Royals to five games in the ALDS.
“There’s a lot of similarities,” the 62-year-old said. “They built this organization from the ground up, all new staff, a lot of good, young core players coming in that they’ve been developing over the last couple years, so I think it’s an exciting time for Blue Jays baseball.”
Hudgens added that he’s particularly excited about the young talent the team has in the pipeline such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio.
“You need a lot of depth to win and I think that’s the goal and that’s what’s being developed in the Blue Jays organization,” he said.