Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

The downside of benching a player

October 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Coaching

The baseball world was in a tizzy a week ago when Yankees manager Joe
 Girardi benched Alex Rodriguez and Curtis

A-Rod benched

Granderson due to poor hitting
 performances in the playoffs.  Both players seemed to take it well … at 
least on the surface.  Inside, I’m sure both players were mad as hell.
  Players like that are not used to being benched and often do not take it
 well.  They are both professionals and knew better than to sulk, pout, or
 be critical of their manager.
  That’s what professionals do.

Benching a player can be a great tool for coaches no matter who the 
player is.  When a top player is benched it sends the message that you
 don’t play favorites and that no player’s position is granted for the 
entire season.  If the player doesn’t perform, the coach will seek an 

However, benching a player can backfire in more ways than one.  When I
 heard Rodriguez and Granderson were being benched, I remembered an 
incident I witnessed in minor league ball on one of my teams.  One of
 our “star” players had done something wrong (late to the field, didn’t 
run out a grounder, or something like that) and was benched the 
following game.  The player had never been benched before and had no 
idea how to act on the bench.  As a “star” player, he had always played.

In short, he drove our manager nuts.  He asked tons of questions about 
the game.  He picked the pitching coach’s brain about pitch selection 
and what to look for during at-bats.  He asked if certain outfielders
 were playing too deep or too shallow.  He walked around joking with all 
the guys on the bench throughout the game.  He played a couple of 
practical jokes on teammates.  Basically, he became a total pest to
 everyone.  Nothing malicious.  He just wouldn’t sit still and could not 
shut up.  By the end of the game the manager said, “For as long as I’m
 your manager, so help me God, unless you are hurt, you will never have 
another day off!”

The moral of the story is make sure all your players know how to act on
 the bench.  Keep everyone busy with charts and other responsibilities
 or, like the player above, they might end up keeping YOU very busy.

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