CLINTON — Scott Steinmann is ready to begin another season in what might be one of the toughest jobs in professional baseball.
Steinmann returns to Clinton for a second consecutive year — and third overall — to manage the Clinton LumberKings. They begin the Midwest League baseball season Thursday with a 6:30 p.m. home game against Beloit at Ashford University Field.
Because it’s low-A ball, Steinmann deals mainly with players making the transition from a short season to a full, 140-game season.
“Definitely this level is one of the toughest levels as far as learning the players early because they don’t know themselves that well,” Steinmann said Tuesday afternoon after conducting the team’s first workout in Clinton. “It’s our job to let them play and kind of figure that out and help them along their journey.
“But I enjoy this level. It’s a challenging level. It’s a very growing level for them as young men as well as young players. I think you take the largest steps as far as who you are as a player and a person (at this level). I think once you get past this year it’s all about the little, smaller adjustments, but those adjustments are pretty important, too.”
The LumberKings arrived from Seattle’s spring-training facility in Arizona on Tuesday and went through their first workout in Clinton.
Most of the roster is new, but there are a few holdovers from last year. Among those back is third baseman Joe DeCarlo, the Mariners’ second-round draft pick in 2012.
Steinmann said competition for jobs was fierce this spring because the Mariners will field one fewer minor-league team this season.
“It definitely made spring training a lot more competitive,” Steinmann said. “I’ve been in the organization for a while, and this was probably one of the most competitive camps we’ve had. We ended up releasing some guys that were pretty good ballplayers, that had some talent but we didn’t have room for them.”
The opening-day roster includes the Mariners’ No. 1 draft pick from a year ago, 19-year-old outfielder Alex Jackson.
“Spring went very well,” Jackson said. “I want to go out, play hard and have fun, compete and be able to win a championship at every level. There are goals, but at the same time, it’s better to just play as hard as you can, and let things fall into place. My goal would be to be the best player that I can be.”
To accomplish that, he has no problem staying in Clinton as long as needed.
“That’s not something I’m even thinking about,” he said of having a timetable for a promotion. “I’m here, I’m going to play ball here. I’m going to give it my all everyday. Like I said, whatever happens happens.”