Jack McDowell's training for his first job as a professional baseball manager started at the very beginning -- T-ball.
After the former White Sox pitcher and 1993 American League Cy Young winner retired from playing in 1999, he coached his children, starting with youth ball and rising up to becoming a high school coach at San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas, Calif.
McDowell said Thursday from a promotional event at U.S. Cellular Field that he thinks that path was great preparation for his new job announced Thursday as manager for the Dodgers' rookie-level team, the Ogden Raptors.
"Coming from a big-league setting and mindset and going back to the very core, you get not only to learn how to coach, but learn the game, what works and what doesn't, what's out there that's being taught," McDowell said. "... It was probably the best experience I could have had in those 10 years. ... I don't think I would be the same guy without doing what I did."
McDowell played 12 years in the major leagues, including seven with the Sox from 1987-1994. He compiled a 127-87 record and a 3.85 ERA in his career.
Heading into this baseball season, he was weighing whether to be a coach or delve into the media world, in which he already had dabbled. He said he never thought about becoming a major league manager until he received the minor league offer.
"The fact that it was a managerial job and not a pitching job was a big difference for me," McDowell said. "I have more to offer in that. My passion is for the overall game, and especially in the teaching route. Being able to be in a low minor leagues, (you're) still actually teaching the game a lot more than you would if you had gone up. I think it will be a lot of fun.
"I'll be a guy who guys will respect and play for. As a teacher, I'm good at explaining things, and not just saying them and expecting guys to do it."
Come March 1, when McDowell reports for Dodgers minor league spring training, he will be on the opposite side of Camelback Ranch from the Sox. He still maintains curiosity about how the Sox offseason moves will play out, in particular how new first baseman Jose Abreu will develop.
"It's going to be interesting," McDowell said. "With the new first baseman, one of the big things is going to be adjusting to failure. You look at the numbers he put up playing in Cuba and they're crazy. They're like high school stats, and it's just not going to happen. ... It's how quick you're able to adjust to failure, because it's a higher level than these guys are used to."
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