The Tribe’s new Chief: Barkett takes over

Indians manager Andy Barkett (left) chats with outfielder Austin Meadows during a game at Victory Field (WTTV April 9, 2017).

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Four games into 2017, Andy Barkett is optimistic about his team’s chances in the International League.

“We got a lot of good, young players,” said Barkett. “A lotta talent. We can do lots of different things. Lotta versatility on this team.”

The Indians are Barkett’s first Triple-A club to manage, but he has plenty of experience calling the shots in the dugout.

“I’ve managed over 1,000 (games),” Barkett explained, “so it’s kinda old hat. Just trying to get these guys motivated and get out here ready to play.

Though the scenery at Victory Field may be new to Barkett, the Indians’ parent club, the Pittsburgh Pirates, is not. Last year, Barkett was the Assistant Hitting Instructor for the entire organization.

“I built a lot of relationships last year with a lot of these players roaming around to the different levels,” said Barkett. “I knew them on a personal level, so it made the transition to managing very easy and seamless.”

Perhaps Barkett’s primary job is ensuring, when the Pirates come calling, his players also complete a seamless transition.

“Consistency and experience they don’t have just yet,” added Barkett. “When they have that, a little more dirt on their cleats, being able to repeat their deliveries on the mound, being able to repeat their approach at the plate, then you know they’re getting ready to go to the big leagues.

From his own experience, Barkett will impress upon his players to always be ready, as that call sometimes comes when you least expect it. For him, it came during a year when he was hitting .240 in Triple-A after hitting better than .300 at the same level in the previous two years. Still, his cup of coffee in the majors was a productive one, hitting .304 in 17 games.

“Like Crash Davis would say, it’s a dubious honor that you hit .304 in the big leagues and not stay,” joked Barkett.

Ultimately, Barkett found his calling as a teacher — a hitting instructor — a manager. Now, he’s fine-tuning the Indians for an International League run, with hopefully a few call ups along the way.

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