From 1980-2003, John Phenix was the man in the dugout. Now he’s back as the head coach after spending the past two years as an assistant under former coach Ray Charles. Phenix was hired during the fall and is the fourth Raiders coach in the past nine seasons.
“I’m real excited. I’m big on conditioning overall, but that time (in the offseason) sometimes the weather is so bad that you’re on again and off again,” Phenix said. “At least now you know you have a game in the future, so we have to prepare for that. I can’t wait. Just the way the kids have been and their attitudes, they’re excited, too. I think it’s going to be fun. It’s not going to be hard making decisions, but it never is.”
After he was given control of the baseball program, Phenix began non-mandatory workouts prior to final exams. The team focused on conditioning, throwing and fundamentals with a little bit of hitting. No matter what level the players will play at this spring, they were all mixed together for the offseason workouts.
Phenix said those workouts will not be used to decide who makes which team, but rather it was just to get players in playing shape who weren’t participating in other sports.
Phenix planned to hold tryouts Saturday, Monday and Tuesday and make the decisions Tuesday night. The first scrimmage will be Saturday.
“For me, this time it’s different because I don’t know everybody,” Phenix said. “In the past, I’ve known the kids coming up, so I could evaluate them on an equal basis. Not knowing these kids, other than the kids I had at the end of last year, it’s fun evaluating them and watching their attitudes and their desire. We have some young kids coming up trying out for the varsity.”
Phenix said some of his staff is in the same boat, not knowing the kids very well. So it will come down to what the coaches feel will be best for the two teams.
One thing is for certain, the field is in better shape than in the past.
“It’s better and that had nothing to do with what happened last year with Ray because he tried his best. The Dugout Club has put a lot of time and effort into it,” Phenix said. “Before I got the job, they redid the entire infield. The grass and the dirt is brand new. We had all the skirts redone, and we put a warning track around the field. We’re redoing the bleacher area and the scoreboard. The field right now is in good playing shape.
“The outfield is beat up in right field again because of football. It’s not as bad because we got them off of it earlier than usual. We’ve been working on it a lot the past few weeks. I’ve had a lot of help, and that’s made everything easier.”