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Nick Capra. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Capra promises aggressive style from third-base box

SHARE Capra promises aggressive style from third-base box
SHARE Capra promises aggressive style from third-base box

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It’s spring training for the third-base coach, too.

That’s especially true for Nick Capra, who hasn’t been on the field since 2005 and takes over an in-the-trenches role for the White Sox this season. Capra needs these games to get ready for the season arguably more than any other third-base coach in Arizona and Florida.

“No doubt; it’s been awhile since I’ve been out there,’’ Capra said. “There are a lot of things I have to relearn and program my mind to do. The process shouldn’t be a tough transition, but there are a lot of things to think through before I get in that box.’’

Playing it safe won’t be Capra’s style. He promises to challenge opposing outfielders with an aggressive style of waving guys home.

“They understand we’re going to be aggressive,’’ Capra said.

Capra, who turns 59 this week, spent parts of five years in the majors with the Royals and Rangers. He has been in the Sox’ organization for 22 years, including 10 as a minor-league manager, a job that usually includes third-base coaching duties.

When Rick Renteria was hired as manager, third-base coach Joe McEwing became his bench coach, and Capra, the Sox’ director of player development the last five years, came on board in uniform.

Having experience in that box near the hot corner is a plus, but Capra is the first to tell you it’s different with major-leaguers.

“Absolutely,’’ he said. “The game is quicker, and major-league players are a little more polished.’’

It’s also the hotter corner for split-second decisions, where a right or wrong wave or hold can be the difference in a run or a big out. And Capra will get some runners thrown out because of his aggressive style.

“That’s the way I’ve done things my whole career,’’ Capra said. “Be aggressive and make good decisions. I have to train [players] to make good decisions, and I have to train myself to make good decisions.’’

And he has to be ready for the blowback when a runner is waved home and thrown out in a key situation. Capra knows it comes with the territory.

“You need thick skin,’’ he said.

“It’s going to happen; hopefully it doesn’t happen a lot. That’s the nature of the beast. I’ll have to deal with a lot of second-guessing. But I’m going to be aggressive and help us win ballgames, not lose them.’’

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Nick Capra flashes signs during the Sox’ game Sunday in Scottsdale, Ariz.

To keep criticism to a minimum, Capra has begun studying players’ assets and weaknesses. He’s watching outfielders’ arms, infielders’ cutoff and relay quirks, all that stuff.

With a background in player development, Capra’s move to Renteria’s staff made sense as the Sox rebuild, general manager Rick Hahn said, and he is also watching the Sox as a baserunners coach and helping McEwing work with infielders.

Meanwhile, McEwing transitions into his role as bench coach next to Renteria, a guy he seemed attached to at the hip last season.

“His experience as a [minor-league] manager and as a player gives him a lot of good insight,’’ Renteria said.

Renteria and the coaches have conversations that cross all lines of the game, not just exclusive to a coach’s area of expertise. McEwing and Capra have been hitting instructors.

Hitting coach Todd Steverson has managed in the minors, so he knows the challenges of coaching third that Capra is relearning.

“We’ve all played this game; we know how difficult this game is,’’ Steverson said. “We all give feedback to each other. It’s a good thing all the way around.’’

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

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