MESA, Ariz. -- Seven years later, Mark Ellis has resumed the role of mentor to Adam Rosales, one of his many students gathering in the infield each morning for early work this spring.Except the 33-year-old Rosales is essentially now the same age the since-retired Ellis was in 2010; and with
MESA, Ariz. -- Seven years later, Mark Ellis has resumed the role of mentor to Adam Rosales, one of his many students gathering in the infield each morning for early work this spring.
Except the 33-year-old Rosales is essentially now the same age the since-retired Ellis was in 2010; and with years comes experience and veteran status -- and Ellis, in A's camp as a guest instructor, is urging him to do some of his own tutoring.
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"He was kind of signaling to me the other day, 'Help them,'" Rosales said. "Like, 'It's OK, speak up.'"
Rosales, who enjoyed his first tour with the A's from 2010-13, has played in parts of nine seasons with four organizations. Last year with the Padres, he said, was when he "really started feeling like a veteran," especially coming from Texas -- where he took cues from the likes of Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder.
Oakland brought the high-energy utility man back on a one-year deal to provide depth in the infield.
"He's played long enough now, and he's been on so many different teams with so many different organizations, that he's seen a lot," Ellis said. "He's played all over the infield, and he could be a real asset to some of these younger guys. It's just kind of the way baseball works. If you get lucky to be around long enough, you share your knowledge with the younger guys and help them out."
Ellis had constant companions in workouts during his own playing days, pointing to the presence of Eric Chavez, Miguel Tejada, Bobby Crosby and Marco Scutaro as a significant source of help.
"We all worked together and helped each other," Ellis said, "and it all starts at Spring Training. Rosie is definitely someone who can do that and should do that."
Rosales recalled his former teammate being "even keel, no matter what," an approach that has stayed with Ellis in his new role.
"His coaching and how he delivers everything is so clear and so exact of what needs to be worked on," Rosales said. "He always builds your confidence, too, just being around him."
Ellis clocked 12 years of big league time, eight as Oakland's everyday second baseman. He posted respectable offensive numbers in that span -- finishing his career with a .262 average and a .327 on-base percentage -- but when asked by Rosales some years ago how he stayed put for so long, "he just pointed at his glove," Rosales said.
"He said, 'This is what kept me in the big leagues right here.' Especially for me and the role I play, it was important for me to hear that, how important defense is and how much a team values defense. So he would say, 'If it's not for this, I'm not in the big leagues,' and I took that to heart."
Rosales will also keep tight something else from Ellis: a pair of dress shoes gifted to him in Anaheim in 2010.
"I had a decent looking suit on, but my shoes were beat up, and Ellie was like, 'We gotta do something about that,'" Rosales said. "The next day, Ellie has a brand new pair of shoes waiting at my locker. I'll have those forever."
"I remember the shoes he had," Ellis said, smiling. "They were terrible."
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.