By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, D.J. Upton, three major league outfielders and just three of the players Skeeter Barnes has worked with in the Tampa Bay organization in his role as outfield and baserunning coordinator.
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Barnes played in the majors for the Reds, Expos, Cardinals and Tigers before turning to coaching when he retired as a player in 1994, Barnes has served in various roles with the Rays organization since 1995 and says he likes his job as a roving instructor.
“The one thing I like is that I get to see everybody,” Barnes said. “I might see one team and then not see them again for another three weeks. I get to see everybody instead of being bogged down with one team all the time, which is what I really like.
“In AAA the games are a lot cleaner, so you’re not working as hard. You’re still working, but maybe not as hard as you would at say the rookie levels.”
His main task is to get players adjusted to doing things the Tampa Bay way.
“My main goal is to get a lot of the new kids doing it (playing) the way that the Rays want them done and the way hat we think it ought to be done and just getting them acclimated to pro baseball,” Barnes pointed out.
One of the things that provides Barnes satisfaction is seeing the growth in players not only during the season, but from year-to-year.
“It’s great seeing the guys, how much of a change it is from the first year we have them to like the second or third year when they start to grow and mature a little bit and figure some things out,” Barnes said. “The high school kids, they all come in here thinking that they’ve got an idea of what they’re against and it’s a totally different beast from what they are used to.”
Barnes played collegiately at the University of Cincinnati and was drafted by the Reds in the 16th round of the 1978 draft. He talked about this year’s Princeton Rays and what he thinks of baseball at the Appalachian League-level.
“I think this group has got a chance to be a good team. If you happen to get some really good college kids with a mixture of high school kids and you do win games, that’s always a plus. I don’t worry about wins and losses here because it’s more like a development,” Barnes pointed out. “If these kids have all gotten better at the end of the year, then I think it was a success. But too many times people look at wins and losses and they think, ‘Oh, that’s a bad team.’
“Take Elizabethton. Over the years they’ve always had an older team and they’ve always won. It doesn’t mean that they have a lot of guys that made it to the higher levels, or made it to the big leagues, but at the lower levels, especially here in this league, they always ruled because they were older players.”
The Tampa Bay organization has had success in moving players through its system to the majors and Barnes said that the Rays have gone from a system that looked at others, to being one that is being looked at by others.
“When you are the doormat for a while, a lot of doors revolve and you get a lot of players in and out,” Barnes said. “I think more and more, especially over the last six or seven years, teams are starting to look at the way we do things as opposed to us looking at how other teams do things, because we’ve set a bar for small market teams as far as winning is concerned and I think teams are now looking at us to see how we do some things here.”
— Contact Bob Redd at