|Pat Hentgen is proof that a baseball player can be successful in Canada by staying in Canada. (QMI Agency file)
LONDON, ONT. - It's Pat Hentgen's first major league coaching job.
But what Hentgen lacks in coaching experience, he'll more than make up for with his unique experiences as a former Blue Jays player.
John Farrell, the new Toronto manager, named Hentgen to his staff. "I've been with the organization the last four or five years, doing special assignments and media relations, so knowing the players will make the transition to coaching easy," said Hentgen, in London for the Sports Celebrity Dinner Monday.
Hentgen has a lot to offer players. He spent 10 years with the Blue Jays during his 14-year career. Besides having World Series rings, he also was the first Jay to win the Cy Young Award (1996, 20-10 record and 3.22 ERA ).
To top it off, Hentgen is proof positive that a baseball player can be successful in Canada by staying in Canada, the toughest selling job facing the franchise.
"I had that experience I can fall back on and talk to the player about, for one thing. We can talk about the years I was here," he said. "Two, we can talk about the years when we had super competitive teams, when we were at the top of the hill. It's just the greatest division, an outstanding division, to be able to play against the Yankees and Red Sox, to be able to go in as a coach, it's something to look forward to. You don't want to avoid the division, you want to be in that division."
The Michigan native is the father of three girls, all under the age of 15.
"The No. 1 concern is not being at home. Being home for the last six years has been an incredible perk," Hentgen said. "To be a dad, to go on every field trip . . .
"As far as the love of the game I've never lost that. I have a passion for it. I enjoy it. I love talking about it. Being the bullpen coach I feel I'm an extension of the pitching coach. I can relay a lot of the things he is teaching up there."
Hentgen will have to adjust from player to coach.
"It's going to be different to be on the inside of the door in those meetings as opposed to be on the outside of the doors as a player," he said. "Being able to relate from a coach to a player rather than player to player, that's a rope I'm going to have to walk. I'm looking forward to the challenge."