After nine years as the Braves' hitting coach, Terry Pendleton wasn’t looking for a change. He wasn’t burned out, tired, ready for something new, but that’s what he got.
The Braves reassigned him to a new job as first-base coach and hired Larry Parrish as their new hitting coach. As Braves general manager Frank Wren described in October, “I just think it was probably time for a new voice.”
Now, as spring training approaches and Pendleton begins his new job under new manager Fredi Gonzalez, he doesn’t do it with any sour grapes.
Here’s how he described his reaction to the job switch:
“It was not something that I would say I welcomed, but it’s something that I’m up for,” said Pendleton, who replaces Glenn Hubbard after he was dropped from the staff. “Change is good. Some people would think it’s not, but sometimes change is good.”
Pendleton does have designs on becoming a manager some day, and taking over a different position where he’ll be working with infielders and on base-running will broaden his skills and experience level. That’s a plus.
He has interviewed for three managerial positions -- in Philadelphia when Charlie Manuel was hired in 2005, in Tampa Bay when Joe Maddon was hired in 2006 and in Washington when Manny Acta was hired in 2007.
“I would like the opportunity, yes,” said Pendleton, 50. “Probably each and every one of us on the coaching staff would like the opportunity to see if we could do it in the big leagues.”
There is a lot about his old job that he’ll miss though, like the camaraderie he developed with players in the batting cages.
“Like in spring training every morning talking baseball, talking hitting, laughing and clowning,” Pendleton said. “I love to talk about hitting. I love to listen to the guys talk about it. I’ll still be able to hear some of that, but it won’t be a regular thing for me.”
One potential perk of giving up his old job would be not having to deal with the daily pressures a hitting coach faces when individual players are struggling. When Nate McLouth was underperforming last year, Pendleton was right there taking the heat.
But Pendleton, a former Braves third baseman who won the 1991 National League MVP, said the pressure didn’t bother him.
“I never felt that, to be honest with you,” Pendleton said. “I understood when I took the job if we didn’t hit, it was going to be on me. I knew that already. Then when we did, it was them. I never felt like it was pressure, I felt bad for our kids because I knew when we struggled as a team, they were off trying to do way too much and trying to pick up the slack for the other guys.”
So this isn’t about relief for him. It is about putting his energies into something new and continuing to be a part of an organization he loves.
He could have left. But that’s not his style.
“People who know me know that I attempt to do things for the ball club,” Pendleton said. “It’s not about me. I want to win. If we feel like we’ve got a better opportunity for somebody else to be the hitting coach, and for me to be in another position for us to win, then let’s go get it done.”
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