Q&a -- Andy Etchebarren

February 28, 2007|By ROCH KUBATKO

Once he's done serving as a spring training coach, Andy Etchebarren will work as the Orioles' minor league roving catching instructor before beginning his second year as manager at short-season Single-A Aberdeen. The IronBirds are the fifth Orioles affiliate he's managed. The starting catcher on the 1966 World Series team, Etchebarren also was Davey Johnson's bench coach in 1996 and 1997.

What's been the toughest job you've had with the Orioles? -- Managing Triple-A [Rochester]. That's a situation where you call a guy up and then you have two or three guys upset because they have better stats and they thought they should go. And then the guy that comes down, he's upset. You've got 10 days to try to get him out of his funk. When guys go up and down, which always happens at the Triple-A level, you've always got three or four who are upset. You spend a lot of time not teaching, but in your office trying to get their heads straightened out.

Since you like teaching, are you enjoying Aberdeen? -- Absolutely. I think it's a great level for me. At my age [63], 76 games, the road trips aren't too bad. I get basically college kids out of the draft, brand new, to orientate them into the organization, our rules, how we do things. That part's fun.

How would you rate Cal Ripken as an owner? -- He's not around too much, but he comes in once in a while. Billy's there almost all the time. That complex is unbelievable. I tell those kids when they come there from the draft, if they think every field is going to be like this, they're nuts. The next time they'll play on a field like that will be Camden Yards.

Who's the best Orioles pitcher you ever caught? -- The best pitcher, and I know Jim Palmer gets mad at me, was [Dave] McNally, only because of the kind of stuff that he had, to win as many games as he won. I'm not saying he had bad stuff at all, but his stuff wasn't as good as Palmer's, or maybe somebody else's. He really knew how to pitch. Jim was an outstanding pitcher, but he should have been an outstanding pitcher when you throw 100 [mph]. On today's gun, Jim probably threw 100.

How reflective have you become after losing so many former teammates, and manager Hank Bauer, over the past year? -- It just tells you that you're getting old. You're not a kid anymore. At the '66 reunion, Hank, myself, [Luis] Aparicio, Boog [Powell], Eddie Fisher, we all sat at the bar at the hotel until 2 a.m. We had a great time, and Hank never mentioned that he was sick or anything. Six weeks later, he's dead. He didn't let us know. And he enjoyed himself.

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