OAKLAND — It’s all business on this trip but Todd Steverson knows how much he owes the Oakland A’s for his current opportunity.
Before he became the White Sox hitting coach, Steverson spent 10 seasons in a variety of different roles with Oakland varying from the majors to the minors.
All of those experiences with players at different levels has Steverson confident he can work with anyone he comes across in the White Sox batting cage. So even though he’s here to win Steverson admits he’s a little nostalgic for his past.
“Lot of good memories,” Steverson said. “It’s weird watching the games from this side of the field. Seen a lot of players go through here. The front office is pretty much still intact. It’s a really close-knit group, and it’s good to have gone to a place that has the same type of thought process keeping their people with them a long time.”
Steverson credits Oakland farm director Keith Lieppmann for giving him the experience needed to tackle his current job. Under Lieppmann, Steverson held a handful of titles including first-base coach in the big leagues to manager at Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A as well as serving as the minor-league hitting coordinator.
“He kept us really prepared to be prepared for the future and what may come up,” Steverson said. “He made you look out of the box on a lot of things and really use your mind and figure out how to get things done and another way to skin the cat kind of thing. I was fortunate enough to play quite a few different roles with the A’s and through those times I developed a lot of relationships, learned a lot of things and had a lot of experiences.
“It really helped it me to where I am now and really communicating with all the players and saying ‘Been there, done that’ or I know someone who’s been there or how it was handled.”
Several players Steverson worked with over his tenure are in the majors with Oakland, including Derek Norris, Eric Sogard, Daric Barton and John Jaso. But the A’s player he has known longest is Coco Crisp, whom Steverson knows back to when the outfielder was a St. Louis Cardinals second baseman.
“I was an outfield guy and he came to me in Peoria, Ill. and worked with him to convert him from a second baseman to an outfielder,” Steverson said. “He took to it pretty good. He was real determined so he worked at it every day — (batting practice) is still like that today. If you watch him, his work ethic is phenomenal.”