ORLANDO – Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens hasn’t put on the pinstripes since 1993, yet he always seems to be considered a Yankee wherever he goes.
“I’ve been away from here for 24 years, but every time I go somewhere they say, ‘Oh, you used to play for the Yankees,’” said Meulens, who interviewed for the team’s managerial vacancy Thursday in New York.
Meulens, who was just promoted to Giants bench coach from hitting coach, is viewed as an intriguing darkhorse candidate given the uniqueness of his past experiences and New York ties. The 50-year-old native of Curacao described why he is the best fit for the job.
“I was groomed to be a winner,” said Meulens, who came up as a highly-touted Yankee prospect and won four championships in his minor-league career before reaching the Bronx and hitting .221 in 159 games from 1989-93.
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“(Throughout) my career, I’ve won a bunch. And that never changes. Every day I come to the ballpark to win the game. Nothing against anybody else, but I have a drive for that. Also, I’ve been known to be a great communicator with guys because of my ability to speak different languages.”
Meulens can speak five different languages – including Spanish, Japanese, Dutch and Papiamento. It is this skill that has allowed him to connect with and coach up players from across Latin America. But Meulens also spoke to how imperative it is to get to know players on a personal level.
“As a coach, you’re kind of a psychologist at the same time,” Meulens said.
Meulens, who also spent time with the Expos and Diamondbacks during his seven-year MLB playing career, managed the Netherlands to a pair of fourth-place finishes at the World Baseball Classic in 2013 and 2017.
“He’s just so positive,” Andruw Jones told ESPN.com earlier this year. “He basically takes all the blame when things go wrong, and that’s what good managers do. He takes charge. He puts all the negative on himself and tries to put all the positive on the players.
“He’s a winner. I hope one day he makes it. He has the desire and the fire in himself to do it. It’s just about getting the opportunity to get that interview and get that chance.”
His interviews did not come until this offseason: first in Detroit, next in New York. He spoke with several of his good friends who gave him advice: managers like Don Mattingly (Miami), Dave Roberts (Dodgers), Jeff Banister (Texas), Torey Lovullo (Arizona) and Dusty Baker (formerly in Washington). “I’m ready to take on the challenge,” Meulens said.
During Meulens’ eight-year tenure as hitting coach in San Francisco, the Giants won three World Series titles. It is believed that he is being groomed to one-day take over once Bruce Bochy calls it a career – that is, if he’s still there.
Meulens said he actually worked on hitting lefties with Didi Gregorius one offseason in Curacao when Gregorius was playing in Arizona. The goal: try to hit the ball over the shortstop’s head. With a little help, Gregorius has become an excellent hitter against southpaws.
One adjustment Meulens has had to make is incorporating analytics – something the Giants did not use until recently. On Thursday, he sat in a room of 10-12 Yankee front office people and felt comfortable answering questions.
He was asked about analytics and how he would construct a lineup – taking into account there’s a lot of data involved these days. “I was cautious of how I answered those questions, in realizing if I do take this job, there’s going to be more and more on the table,” Meulens said.
Others who have interviewed to replace Joe Girardi include Rob Thomson and Eric Wedge. Aaron Boone is also expected to interview, with Chris Woodward considered a candidate as well.
“I never envisioned this,” Meulens said of possibly managing the Yankees. “But now that the spot is open and I’m ready to manage, of course this is a spot I want to come back to.”
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