June 19, 2008
By David Driver
Used with permission
BOWIE, Md. — Brad Komminsk arrived at his home near here about 2 a.m. recently, following a minor league road trip as manager of the Class AA Bowie Baysox.
After about six hours of sleep he was at the gym on a Friday morning for a workout before he showed up at around 11 a.m. at Prince George's County Stadium, the home of the Orioles' Eastern League affiliate.
With the temperature near 90 degrees, the Lima native and former Major League outfielder learned the air conditioning did not work in the Baysox clubhouse prior to that night's game against the Harrisburg (Pa.) Senators.
The temperature was about 85 degrees that afternoon in his office, where the carpet was ripped out following a flood earlier this season. Fans were blowing cool air in his manager's office, which sits behind the right-field foul pole.
"It is a firm reminder you of where you are at," Komminsk, 47, said of working in the minor leagues. "Whoever designed this place didn't do a very good job. It is a bad design. People that designed these things never ask baseball players what they need."
Komminsk, a 1979 Shawnee High School graduate, is no stranger to the Eastern League. He was the manager of the Akron Aeros for three seasons, from 2002 to 2004. His 2002 team led all of minor league baseball with 93 wins and he was named the Eastern League manager of the year.
Among the future Major Leaguers he managed in Akron were Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez of the Indians and current Orioles Luke Scott and Jeremy Guthrie.
"It has been a very good thing for the Orioles. He is an extremely hard worker," David Stockstill, director of player development for Baltimore, said of Komminsk joining the club this year. "He has the respect of the players. He brings a lot of knowledge. It has been a positive thing for the Orioles."
Stockstill managed Bowie the second half of the 2002 season and said he was impressed with how Komminsk ran his Akron club.
"It is a tough level," he said of Class AA. "You have a lot of veterans and a lot of good young prospects. You have a lot of travel in this league and you have to adjust and keep fit. It is a tough league. It is a grind. A lot of guys who play well at this level have a chance to play in the big leagues."
Komminsk has experienced the highs of Major League Baseball and the lows of life in the minor leagues.
He was a first-round draft choice (fourth overall) of the Atlanta Braves in 1979 and made his Major League debut with the club in 1983. The former outfielder played in the majors with Atlanta (1983-86), Milwaukee (1987), Cleveland (1989), San Francisco (1990), Baltimore (1990) and Oakland (1991).
He spent eight seasons in the player development system of the Cleveland Indians before joining the Philadelphia Phillies, where he was a coach for the Clearwater Threshers of the Class A Florida State League in 2007.
Steve Noworyta, the minor league director for Philadelphia, put Komminsk in touch with Dave Stockstill, director of player development for the Orioles, since Noworyta knew Komminsk wanted to be a manager again following last season.
"We hit it off pretty well," Komminsk said of Stockstill, who has worked in the Oriole farm system since 1994. He was hired after a phone interview.
"It is a pretty easy adjustment. It was not a tough move at all. You have a lot of new faces to learn. No one really re-invents the wheel (in player development). You still go out on the field and work on fundamentals. Cleveland has a little of their own way of doing things. Philadelphia has their own way of doing things. But it is all virtually the same thing."
In games through June 13 the Baysox were 40-26 and in first place in the southern division of the Eastern League. Bowie scored three runs in the last of the ninth at home June 13 to beat Harrisburg 4-3.
The Bowie lineup includes former Bowling Green State University standout and outfielder Nolan Reimold and third baseman Jeff Nettles, the son of former Yankee third sacker Graig Nettles. Reimold is one of the top power prospects in the system.
His pitching staff includes top prospects Chris Tillman and Kam Mickolio and closer Julio Mannon, a former big leaguer who had 16 saves.
"Mannon could get guys out in the big leagues right now if he had the opportunity. We have plenty of good young arms," Komminsk said.
Air conditioning? That is another matter.