Once he learned the nuances of the business, Mike Flanagan made a smooth transition from the playing field to the television booth.
It would figure, then, that his move back to the dugout, as the Orioles' new pitching coach, would be routine.
It hasn't been that simple.
As he prepares for the beginning of spring training Friday, Flanagan doesn't know where his real pitchers will be -- or, more importantly, what they'll be doing.
"Right now, I'd guess we'll be looking at a lot of these kids," Flanagan said after the final off-season workout at Camden Yards last week.
With no end in sight for the 6-month-old strike, the issue of replacement players has become the hottest topic. The Orioles say they won't have any -- but they are still opening a major-league camp without major-league players.
"It could be a question of semantics," said Flanagan. "To the union, minor-leaguers might be considered replacement players, while the teams say they are organizational players."
There have been indications that the players association might take action against coaches and trainers who work with replacement players. But that issue hasn't been directly addressed, and those involved with the Orioles are hoping that owner Peter Angelos' stance against replacement players will spare them the anguish of making a decision.
At this point, Flanagan is not overly concerned about the behind-the-scenes maneuvering. Some observers, though, think he may face a more ticklish situation as he prepares to start a coaching career.
Serving as pitching coach for a new manager who was a pitching coach himself will require a delicate balancing act. Each man, however, appears comfortable with the other.
"The more we talk, the more I realize we're on the same page [with philosophies]," said manager Phil Regan. "And Mike is very well-organized."
That point was driven home to Regan a few weeks ago when he suggested a program be outlined for spring training -- and was shown one that Flanagan had prepared.
Having a former pitching coach as his boss neither intimidates nor bothers Flanagan.
"In one of our first meetings with Roland [Hemond, general manager], a question came up about how we go about correcting something with a particular pitcher," said Flanagan.
"It was the kind of question that, as a former pitching coach, would have been natural for Phil to answer. There was a slight hesitation on my part, but he didn't flinch and I answered the question.
"That has come up two or three times since, and it's obvious to me that he [Regan] is very conscious of the fact that he's the manager, not the pitching coach. I just hope he doesn't go to the other extreme.
"It can be nothing but a plus for me. If I have a problem, I have somebody I can go to. I know we talk the same language. It's amazing how many things [discussed] were alike."
The fact that he's starting his coaching career at the big-league level should not be a negative for Flanagan, according to those around him.
"I think he's a natural," said Hemond. "He's very astute, picks things up quickly. And the fact that he's been a regular starter, spot starter and reliever gives him a good overall knowledge of all aspects of pitching. Plus, in the latter stages of his career, he had young pitchers coming to him, so it's not something new."
For most of his career with the Orioles, Flanagan played under Earl Weaver and benefited from the knowledge of Hall of Fame teammate Jim Palmer.
"He was blessed to be around a guy like Palmer, who wanted to talk to the young guys," said Weaver. "And I'm sure he [Flanagan] did that later in his career.
"He's a Palmer-type in that regard, and there's no question that Jim could've stepped in as a big-league pitching coach. They are both very intelligent people, and when you have intelligence to go with ability that adds up to 20-game winners.
"Mike was a student of the game. He sat in the dugout and talked about it. He wasn't in the clubhouse eating sandwiches. The more you're in the game, the more you learn -- and Mike was always in the game."
Weaver said that the most important thing for a pitching coach is the ability to translate his thoughts for his pupils.
"In order to be a good coach, you have to be able to get inside their heads," he said.
"[George] Bamberger was a master at that. Whatever it took, George did it. He had a knack of making pitchers understand what he was talking about, and I think Mike will be great at that."
And there will be times, according to Weaver, when Flanagan's fabled sense of humor will be particularly important.
"You've got to learn to laugh at yourself, and I think Mike can do that," Weaver said.
"But he's going to run into people who don't want to listen, and when they don't have success, they're going to blame him. We'll have to see how he adjusts."
Flanagan says he'll encourage his pitchers to talk among themselves, as he and Palmer, Scott McGregor, Mike Boddicker and others did during his playing days.