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Examiner
  • Bill Althaus: Brett's parting words convey passion

  • Less than a minute into his Thursday afternoon news conference at Kauffman Stadium, George Brett – a player who wore his emotions on his sleeve during a 20-year Hall of Fame career with the Kansas City Royals – was trying to relay his thought process in resigning as the interim hitting coach of the only major league team he has ever been associated with.

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  • Less than a minute into his Thursday afternoon news conference at Kauffman Stadium, George Brett – a player who wore his emotions on his sleeve during a 20-year Hall of Fame career with the Kansas City Royals – was trying to relay his thought process in resigning as the interim hitting coach of the only major league team he has ever been associated with.
    “It's time for me to resign as hitting coach,” said Brett, as he battled to regain his composure. “It's a tough decision. I got to know the players on a day-to-day basis, but it's time for me to sit with (vice president of baseball operations and general manger) Dayton (Moore) in his suite than sit in the dugout.”
    Newcomer Pedro Grifol, whom Brett praised throughout the news conference, will take over as the team's hitting coach. He and Brett shared the position the past six weeks.
    “George did an incredible job,” Moore said. “His expertise as a baseball man and his passion to win will have an everlasting effect on our team. I'm thrilled that he will be more involved in all aspects of baseball operations.”
    I wasn't able to attend the news conference because of a prior interview commitment, but listening over the radio I could sense Brett's passion. When I covered the Royals during his reign I was as impressed with Brett off the field as I was on it.
    He was the best interview on the team, a man who knew when to have a good time and when to get serious. And he got serious when he stepped on the field and dominated the game unlike any other player in Royals history.
    If you read between the lines of Thursday's comments, it seemed evident that the game he played and loved had changed. He talked about video sessions, new forms of soft toss, indoor batting cages – all non-existent during a career in which he became the only player in major league history to win batting titles in three different decades (1976, 1980 and 1990).
    “I had fun,” he said when asked about his return to the game, “but after being away 20 years, it was a tough adjustment. It was getting tougher and tougher (to come to the ballpark), let's just say that.”
    Then, he made the most honest and poignant comment of the news conference when he said, “I was a better player than I was a teacher. I'm not a good mechanical hitting coach.”
    What Brett lacked in expertise, he made up for with passion and a love for the game that will still bring him to the park to throw batting practice, visit with Grifol around the batting cage and give input to Moore as he will retain his status as vice president of baseball operations.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I didn't mind the travel when I was a 20-year-old,” Brett said. “I didn't mind it when I was 35, but I did when I was 39. Now, it's very difficult for me. I'm 60.”
    While he might be out of the dugout and back in Moore's suite, let's hope one comment he made while serving as the interim coach lingers forever with the youngsters in the Royals’ locker room.
    “If you believe in yourself, it's amazing what you can accomplish,” he said. “If you don't, you don't have a chance.”
    Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at 350-6333 or bill.althaus@examiner.net. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC
     
     
     

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