Brett, Hernandez to manage Futures

Brett, Hernandez to manage in Futures Game

The alumni directory for Futures Game managers is a veritable who's who of baseball's past, complete with Hall of Famers and All-Stars aplenty.

The list consists of baseball dignitaries Goose Gossage, Fernando Valenzuela, Paul Molitor, Davey Concepcion, Carlton Fisk, Tony Oliva, Gaylord Perry, Minnie Minoso, Jim Rice, Tony Perez, Lou Brock and Luis Aparicio.

The 2005 XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game will keep up that level of excellence when George Brett and Guillermo Hernandez man the United States and World dugouts, respectively, on Sunday, July 10. Rosters for both teams will be announced on an exclusive video show from the Texas League All-Star Game on Wednesday, June 22 at 4 p.m. ET.

Brett, the longtime Royals third baseman appeared in a dozen All-Star Games, won the AL MVP in 1980 and finished with 3,154 hits. His efforts earned him enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

"I don't think people who never played realize, once you play in the big leagues, you're a part of a great fraternity," Brett said. "These Future guys will be members of that fraternity. Just because I'm an old has-been doesn't mean I'm not still part of the fraternity and won't promote it whenever I have the chance."

Hernandez appeared in three All-Star Games, all with the Tigers, who play host to the All-Star festivities this year. His best year came in 1984, when he took home Cy Young and MVP honors as the Tigers won the World Series.

"I'm very happy that I'm able to go back to the old city and see all my old teammates and old, familiar faces," Hernandez said from the Dominican Republic, where he's currently a farmer and cattle rancher. "It's something that I'm really anxious about."

Brett and Hernandez were contemporaries from the same era, but now approach this Futures Game from very different places. Brett has stayed very involved in Kansas City as the Royals' vice president of baseball operations. The invitation to manage the U.S. team -- one that's been offered in the past but Brett previously had to turn down because of a family illness -- is simply an extension of what he's already doing.

"That's the whole thing," Brett said. "I go to Spring Training for a month. I suit up, work with young hitters, work on fielding, baserunning, a little bit about everything. I'm still very attached to the game of baseball."

It'd be easy to assume that George Brett, Hall of Famer, baseball legend, wouldn't be easily impressed, that meeting Minor Leaguers wouldn't be at the top of his to-do list. It'd be a wrong assumption to make.

"I consider it quite an honor that I get to represent the United States in this game, playing against the best in the world," said Brett, who took in the Futures Game in the U.S. dugout in 2002 when fellow Hall of Famer Paul Molitor managed. "It's an honor to be invited. I'm looking forward to it, to be around the budding stars of tomorrow. Most of them will make it to the big leagues. To say that I knew that guy when he was 19, when they come through Kansas City, friendships develop.

"One guy that really stands out that I met was Pat Burrell. Now every day, I look at the paper to see how he's doing."

For Hernandez, the invitation to man the World dugout could be a means to get back into the game, something he's been eyeing for quite some time.

"I would like another chance to get back to the Major Leagues as a pitching coach, to prove that I can do the job," Hernandez said. "When I get a chance like this, I'll take it. I really don't want to spend too much time in the Minor Leagues because I feel I've paid my dues here.

"I have a lot of experience with kids here, teaching baseball and pitching. I want to train them not only with their mechanics, but their minds and their strengths as well."

Hernandez makes it clear that this managing gig will be a one-time-only affair. He wants to deal with arms only and is honest about his limitations as a skipper.

"As a manager, you have to know a lot of things; the fielding, the baserunning, the hitting, the catching," Hernandez said. "Guys like me, the pitchers, we did our own thing in the bullpen. We also messed around a little more, playing jokes, slapping each other around, but when it comes down to pitching, we know exactly what it is we need to do or look for.

"There are so many things to think about as a manager, and I'm not prepared for that. I am prepared for the pitchers, though."

The pitchers who are named to the World Team will certainly benefit from that knowledge, just like the U.S. team will undoubtedly be able to learn from Brett's vast experiences. Brett understands that while the Futures Game is an exhibition, many of baseball's decision-makers will be watching these young players to see how they perform on a larger stage.

"I was at a [Futures] Game years ago, our general manager was at the game," Brett recalled. "He said, 'George, I want you to keep an eye on that guy, we may be trading for him.' Our GM, assistant GM, and several scouts were there. It's a great place to showcase their talents. They're going up against the best of the best."

Brett won't have a long period of time to prepare them for this experience, so he'll keep the advice simple and straightforward, using a credo that served him well in two decades with the Royals: Play the game right.

"I'll tell them to have fun, and to play the game with the respect of those who played before," Brett said. "That means if you hit a ground ball, you run as hard as you can. Scouts will be out there watching you. If they see you in this exhibition with that desire, they'll know what kind of big leaguer you can be.

"You can close a lot of eyes; you can open a lot of eyes. It's up to you. The whole objective of this game is to get you to the big leagues. The best way to do that is to respect the game, hustle on and off the field, and play the game the right way."