By Steve Hurt/Special Contributor
ARLINGTON, Texas – Dave Clark has a unique perspective on the Houston Astros, as the Shannon High School graduate is now working under his third different manager in five seasons.
This spring, Clark became Houston’s new first base coach under new manager Bo Porter, hired last fall to turn around a franchise that finished with MLB’s worst record in 2011 and 2012.
Clark has only been working with Porter for a short time, but he’s already noticed some big changes. “Bo brings a lot of energy. He’s young. He’s enthusiastic. There has been a culture change,” he said. “We’re at the big-league level and have to do a lot of teaching, which is the grassroots of being coaches anyway, to teach first and coach second. I think the kids are starting to get hold of what we’re all about and it’s starting to catch on.”
Among his duties are working with the club’s outfielders and being the baserunning coach, responsibilities he approaches with a simple philosophy.
“You find out who that individual is and what works well for him. You let the kids go out and play. When there’s mistakes, you correct them so they won’t make the same mistake twice,” Clark said. “You get the joy out of it when the kids start to progress and their questions are more big-league questions.”
In 2009, he served as Houston’s interim manager, going 4-9 over the Astros’ final 13 games and admits he’d like another shot at being a big-league skipper but for now is content in his current role.
“My first dream was to be in the big leagues as a player. I got a chance to be an interim manager after I got into coaching and managing in the minor leagues. But eventually I would love to be able to run a club,” Clark said. “You crawl before you walk and right now I’m still crawling. Sooner or later, you hope to get an opportunity like that, but I’m not rushing it.”
Even as the Astros appear poised to lose 100 games for a third straight season, Clark insists the days of Houston being an MLB punch line might soon be over.
“We’re not as far away as people may believe we are,” Clark said. “In the next year, year and a half, I think this going to be a team that everybody’s going to be talking about.”
Steve Hunt is a freelance writer based in Frisco, Texas.