The White Sox drafted Frank Menechino, whom they named as their new hitting coach to replace Todd Steverson on Thursday, in the 45th round of the 1993 draft.
That was a humbling beginning to an up-and-down career in pro ball for Menechino, 48, who spent the 2019 season as the Sox’ Class AAA hitting coach in Charlotte.
“There isn’t anything in baseball I haven’t been through, OK?” Menechino said on a conference call. “I was drafted by the White Sox after a girl, [former general manager Ron] Schueler’s daughter [drafted for grins in the 43rd round]. I played in the minor leagues seven years before I made it as a major-league player. I made it up; I came back down; I went back up. Played in the playoffs. I’ve been through everything there is.”
Those ups and downs help Menechino relate to players with everything from personal issues to batting slumps.
“You’ve got to know when to put your foot down; you’ve got to know when to pat them on the butt,” he said.
Steverson held the position for six years, which had been the second-longest active tenure for a major-league hitting coach. He seemed to connect with the up-and-coming young hitters while he was with the team during spring training and September. Under Steverson, the Sox (72-89) ranked fifth in batting average but were 11th in on-base percentage, last in walks, fourth in strikeouts and 13th in runs in the American League.
“It’s a very difficult position, and sometimes you just need to change the voice to make sure the message is getting through to everyone in the clubhouse,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “We feel very confident that Frankie’s that right voice to help us continue to grow as an offense.”
“Frankie seemed like the guy that would get us to another phase of development with our players,” manager Rick Renteria said.
That phase would include more ‘‘grinding out’’ at-bats, chasing fewer pitches out of the strike zone and higher on-base rates.
“Everybody believed he could probably — not that Todd did a terrible job — but that Frank could get us to a different level,” Renteria said.
Before joining the Sox’ organization, Menechino spent five seasons (2014-18) on the Marlins’ major-league staff, including three (2014-16) as the assistant hitting coach and two (2017-18) as the hitting coach.
“I train these guys on how to get the most out of what they have, and I train these guys to win,” Menechino said.
The Sox announced last week that they were parting ways with Steverson and assistant coach Greg Sparks, who will be replaced at a later date, Hahn said.