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The One-of-a-Kind Andy Van Slyke

Detroit Tigers first base coach Andy Van Slyke talked to Big League Stew for their weekly "Answer Man" feature today, and as you might expect from the always quotable former Pirates and Cardinals center fielder, he provides some great stuff to read.

For one thing, if you've ever wondered what his duties as first base coach include, here's a description:

Q: So what do you do over there?

AVS: Try to advise the guys who have some speed, who might be able to take an extra base, of the pitcher's move. Does he have one? How good is it? The catcher's arm. The outfield arms. "Pay attention to the third-base coach," or "Watch for the steal sign." I don't overload them, I just try to give them one or two important things to think about.

Among the many topics discussed with David Brown is plenty of talk about Barry Bonds, including Van Slyke's side of the final play of the 1992 NLCS, and how he would welcome Bonds if he ever joined the Tigers. He also explains what it's like to share center field with Lenny Dykstra and details his turnstile jumping in the New York subways last August.

And I'm not sure anyone, including Van Slyke, will care about this, but this seems like a good place to express a sentiment. Two years ago, I was in the Tigers' clubhouse for the first time, working on a magazine assignment. It was only my second time in any professional locker room of any kind, and I was trying really hard to look like I knew what I was doing and not completely awed. I had no idea where I was going, and so afraid of walking anywhere I wasn't supposed to that I was sort of paralyzed. Someone comes around the corner, sees me, smiles, and says "Hey, how ya doin' today?" on his way to the coaches' locker room. That was Andy Van Slyke. Hardly a big deal, I realize, but it helped me relax, and snapped me out of my stupor so I could get to work. I'll always feel some gratitude toward him for that.