Nago back in pro ball
Garrett Nago is returning to professional baseball as an assistant coach with the San Jose Giants, the Class A team in the San Francisco Giants system.
"This a second life for me. It is what I was shooting for the first time," said Nago, who played pro ball for nine years.
Nago's good relationship with San Jose manager Lenn Sakata led to the opportunity.
"Jack Hiatt (Giants director of player development) and I had talked about filling our coaching staff," Sakata said. They offered me an opportunity to get involved in the hiring of a coach and asked if there was anyone in Hawaii who could do the job.
"I had talked to Garrett about this before and everything just kind of fell into place. I'm very happy to have him. With his past experience as a player and coach, he will contribute to our organization."
Everything started to jell when they met at a social function and Sakata wanted to know if Nago was still interested.
"Lenny called me in January to let me know. I'm pretty excited. I'm lucky to have people like Lenny who still have faith in me," Nago said.
There were days when Nago was working construction that he would tell himself he should be doing something else.
"I never gave up thinking I would get a chance, but it was slowly getting out of my system. I tried to keep in tune by watching a ballgame on TV on the weekends," Nago said.
"He wants to take a shot at it, and I think he realizes this is a pretty good opportunity," Sakata said.
Nago's position is usually given the designation as hitting coach, but Sakata says that does not cover all of Nago's responsibilities.
"Garrett was both a pitcher and catcher during his career. We don't have a catching coach full time, so that will help our team," Sakata said. "He has played at the Triple-A level. It is important to have that experience, to help our players prepare for the next level, to be more well-rounded."
Nago, who turns 47 in June, says one thing he can pass on to players half his age, besides having a good attitude, is having a strong work ethic.
"In high school and college, especially the good programs, someone is always cracking the whip. As a pro, no one is pushing you. You forget what got you there, especially with conditioning. Most of us made that mistake," Nago said.
Sakata hasn't had time to discuss specific duties with Nago yet, but has given him a broad idea of what is expected.
"Garrett will help me run things day to day. He has more experience in baseball than his résumé suggests."
He has coached at Pearl City (his alma mater), Kamehameha and Moanalua since retiring. He coached the Pearl City Little League team that lost the state final to eventual national champion Ewa Beach, and was also a coach for a Hawaii team that won the American Legion World Series in 1995.
Nago did not sign after being drafted by Milwaukee in the 1980 winter draft (held in January) and in the secondary phase (no longer held) of the summer draft while attending Pima (Ariz.) Community College. He finally signed with the Brewers following his junior year at Arizona in 1981.
Notes: Keoni DeRenne (Iolani, Arizona), a free agent, signed with the Boston Red Sox on Jan. 30. The infielder was in the Arizona Diamondbacks system the past two years. ... After four seasons as a hitting coach in the Los Angeles Angels farm system, former Hawaii Rainbow catcher Todd Takayoshi will be the Angels' roving catching coach this year.