ARLINGTON -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was Vladimir Guerrero’s hitting coach for one season in Texas, but to hear him tell it, he might have spent more time working with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. -- as a 10-year-old.
Hurdle spent a few minutes Tuesday afternoon looking back on his time as the Rangers’ hitting coach in 2010. That led the conversation to Guerrero, the Hall of Fame slugger, and thus to Vlad Jr., the highly-touted prospect -- ranked No. 1 by MLB Pipeline -- who made his Major League debut for the Blue Jays on Friday.
Hurdle had a story to tell about both men. Actually, Hurdle said, “I’ve got the best story.”
He wasn’t kidding.
“I didn’t work that much with Vladimir. Vladimir basically hit every day at BP time. There was no early work. There wasn’t any video work,” Hurdle said. “If he wasn’t going well, he would tell me to go look at the video and give me a shot that I can compare something to. So I would pull still shots -- when you’re in a good position to hit and where he was at that time. He was a very visual guy, but not to watch the video.
“The guy was talented, man. What a humble, strong, dangerous hitter. Quiet. But I can remember one time on a weekend in August, it was a Friday night, and he was in between. He wasn’t bombing, but he wasn’t bad. In between. And I’m always wondering, ‘Am I ever going to get to work with this guy?’ Because I hadn’t. And he says, ‘Tomorrow. Cage. Two o’clock.’ I’m thinking, ‘Cha-ching. Got him! I get to work with Vladimir!’”
Hurdle said he even called his father, Clint Sr., to tell him that he was going to get to work one-on-one with Guerrero. He showed up 30 minutes early, ready to work with a pitching machine, a tee and extra baseballs. Then Guerrero showed up with a guest.
“He walks in with Junior, and he says, ‘My son. Here. Please. Please work with my son,’” Hurdle said. “So for 30 minutes, I work with Junior -- who was 10 years old at the time -- and then he walked out.
“It wasn’t like working with a normal 10-year-old, though, I’ll tell you that. He was very advanced for 10. He hit the ball really hard. He hit the ball way too hard for a 10-year-old. That was my experience working with Vladdy.”