By Kurt Ritzman
Assistant Sports Editor
Even Eddie Menchaca has gotten into the biggest news in Clinton over the past couple of weeks.
Menchaca, who will manage the Clinton LumberKings this season, came into town over the weekend to speak at the Hot Stove Banquet and already was making quips about Flavor Flav and his Flav’s Fried Chicken restaurant.
“Ted, if I don’t do thing things you want me to, you can always bring in Flavor Flav to manage the LumberKings,” Menchaca said to LumberKings general manager, and 2010 Midwest League Executive of the Year, Ted Tornow.
Menchaca, who turns 30 next Monday, is entering his second year as a manager. Last season, he led Pulaski to the Appalachian League East Division title in short-season A ball.
Menchaca is entering his 11th year in the Seattle Mariners organization and fourth as a coach. In 6 1/2 seasons as a minor league player, he hit .225 with 156 runs scored and 128 RBIs while playing mostly as a middle infielder.
“I was like a sponge (as a player),” Menchaca said. “Every time a coach was talking to me, I was taking notes. I’ve always been a young one, but I was always the young one paying attention.”
Menchaca, the youngest of 14 siblings, played for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (after he announced that, he booed) so he has some familiarity with the Midwest League.
Menchaca said his age often was an issue, but it shouldn’t be.
“One thing (former LumberKings manager John) Tamargo told me was, ‘Don’t ever change who you are and don’t overmanage a game,’” Menchaca said in response to a question about his age. “You’ve got to have some kind of personal relationship with the player. I try to be who I am and that’s Eddie Menchaca. I’m young; deal with it.”
He said since he was young and played as recently as 2005, he should be able to easily relate with the players. Another benefit Menchaca has is that he is fluent in Spanish, which should help with the Hispanic players.
Menchaca also told the crowd of about 160 people at the annual event that benefits the Friends of Riverview Stadium what to expect from the LumberKings this year.
“The biggest thing you can expect from us this year is we’ll work hard and focus on the little things. I’m really detailed, and that makes a big difference,” he said. “I want our players to be good on the field and be good citizens off the field. They’ll learn how to men.”