Major leaguer returns to Dawgs part-time
Baseball: Jim Henderson to help coach first base
Wednesday, May 31, 2017 06:00 am
The Okotoks Dawgs will start the season with a first base coach with major league experience.
However, Jim Henderson has never actually been to first base as a major leaguer.
“I have never been on base — especially as a short reliever,” Henderson said with a smile. “But I have watched enough baseball to know what to do at first base.”
Henderson, a graduate of the Dawgs program, is helping out his baseball alma mater until the main coaches, manager Tyler Graham, and infield coach Andy Peterson return from their stints with the no. 1 Oregon State Beavers.
If Henderson hasn’t been to first base for a while, he’s got a good excuse.
As a middle reliever with the Brewers and the Mets it was Henderson’s job to keep runners off base. He had a 10-11 record, an ERA of 3.61 and 31 saves over four seasons, the Brewers from 2012-14, and the Mets last season.
Henderson was picked up by the world champion Chicago Cubs in the off-season, but was released this spring.
He is currently waiting for a phone call from another club or will just continue to strengthen his shoulder and possibly hang with the Dawgs and hopefully hook up with a big league organization in the future.
“We have had interest from teams since the end of spring training, it’s just nothing has materialized yet,” he said. “I’m working out right now, but I am not throwing, which I am okay with… I have been back here working hard training and I think I will be better than ever next year if something doesn’t happen this year.
“I believe I can get a spring training invite by taking a year off.”
Henderson, who was on the Mets’ roster when they lost their wild-card game to the Giants in the fall, found himself in a unique situation the past two springs. He was at the camp of the World Series loser from the year before in 2016 with the Mets, and this year he was at spring training for the defending champions, the Cubs.
He enjoyed the camp with the Cubbies.
“Joe Maddon runs what you would expect — it’s respectful, relaxed and they all respected him as a manager,” Henderson said. “But it was like any other camp for me — we are getting ready for the season.
“When I was with the Mets last spring it was like ‘We have to be cautious because we played an extra month of the season.’ The Cubs it wasn’t that approach. They were, ‘We won last year, let’s get ready and try and do it again.’”
If Henderson gets the call, he’ll head off for what he calls mini spring training, get his arm stronger and go wherever he is sent.
In the meantime, he will help coach with former Dawgs manager AJ Fystro and bench coach David Robb, who arrived back in Okotoks last weekend.
They are pretty good replacements. Fystro was the head coach during the Dawgs’ 2008 and 2009 championship years. Robb won a title in 2004 with the then Calgary Dawgs (Fystro was an assistant).
“I know Dave Robb and AJ will head up those first few games — I will help out in anyway,” Henderson said.
Fans don’t need to worry despite the fact Henderson has not been to first base since the Harper era.
Henderson was one of the Calgary Dawgs best hitters back in the day and you have to be a jack of all trades when you claw your way up from southern Alberta to the Mets.
He was in the first base box in the minor leagues.
“In the minor leagues you kind of goof off and do what you have to do,” Henderson said with a chuckle.