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San Francisco Giants’ Ron Wotus: bottom line-support Bruce Bochy

By Mark ONeill
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Don Wotus has been a San Francisco Giants’ bench coach since 1999. In a business where organizations change coaches and staffs, as often as middle schoolers change their minds, this is remarkable. Having been included in five different managerial searches, by five organizations, though not offered a job, tells something about the nature of the Giants’ popular bench coach: He must be doing something right.

Wotus said the bottom line was, he did whatever he could to help the manager, when asked what he considered his chief function to be. His presence on the bench is one significant reason, why the Giants have won two World Championships in the past five seasons, and are competing in a third one, beginning Tuesday night in Kansas City, against the Royals.

When new managers come into the fold, they generally bring their staffs with them. Wotus, however, was hired during Dusty Baker’s tenure, and then remained when Felipe Alou both came and went, and then Bruce Bochy showed up on the scene. Apparently working for/with managers, whose names contain ten letters, works for Wotus, as well as the team.

Oct 12, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy heads back to the dugout in the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in game two of the 2014 NLCS playoff baseball game at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

As far as the five interviews are concerned, many reasons exist for explaining why he has not yet been hired for a managerial job, including the possibility that he never wanted to leave San Francisco in the first place. He may have simply wanted to see what was available, for future reference, so that he had other organizations with which to compare, when he felt the time had come.

Wotus and Bochy work closely together; when Bochy gets ejected from a game, he gives his bench coach total control, instead of relaying moves in from off the field. In Colorado, last April 23rd, when Bochy was tossed in the fourth inning, Wotus found work for five relievers, a defensive replacement, and three pinch-hitters, in an eleven-inning affair, that San Francisco ended up winning, 12-10, when Hector Sanchez muscled a home run over the wall for a tie-breaking grand slam.

Other teams know that Wotus is a lot more to the Giants, than someone who gets paid to have coffee with the manager before the game, no matter how rocky the road is. When Wotus became incensed during a game in Milwaukee, over ball and strike calls, he was ejected from the game for arguing.

Wotus got ejected from a game for arguing balls and srikes, and then he got suspended for pursuing the matter on the field.

Not content to leave before he had made his point, he ended up being suspended by Major League Baseball, “…for his inappropriate actions, which included coming on to the field following his fourth inning ejection from his Club’s Saturday, July 23rd game against the Milwaukee Brewers at AT&T Park.”

I wrote a piece in September, about an analysis of defensive shifts being employed in Major League Baseball. The data gave the Giants MLB’s highest percentage of success, when employing defensive shifts. This does not mean that the Giants use shifts the most; it means their rate of success is highest. Considering Ron Wotus is the one directing traffic out in the field, he deserves recognition for his baseball acumen.

San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (35) relies on bench coach Ron Wotus, to align his defense properly. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Wotus is the guy Brandon Crawford consults, when a team is coming into town, and there is an unfamiliar number on the roster. Wotus has to decide who is going to cover second, when Panik is deployed in shallow right field. It could be Pablo Sandoval or it could be Brandon Crawford, who also has to be ready to cover first, in case Brandon Belt has to charge the plate. Split-second decisions. And Wotus has to have all of the information available at all times.

In this World Series, both teams are evenly matched, and both are adept at manufacturing runs, and preventing the opponent from doing the same. Minute details are going to loom huge, and the coaches supporting the players on the field, who are able to provide the most accurate and updated information, are the ones who are going to help their teams the most. 2010 and 2012 are examples of this support from Ron Wotus.

As far as future interviews concerning managerial positions are concerned, let’s hold off on that discussion for the time being. Wotus has enough to do, handling interviews leading up to the start of the World Series.

Those are the best kind of all.

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