BY JAMES TUBB ON JUNE 1, 2022.
Michael Forgione simply loves base stealing.
He was a base-running coach at Lower Columbia College in Washington before taking his role of student manager at Utah Valley University. In his first week as an assistant coach with the Medicine Hat Mavericks, the WCBL club is tied for first in the league with the Lethbridge Bulls who also have 10 stolen bases entering Tuesday night.
The Mavericks also sit tied for first with the Edmonton Prospects with four runners caught stealing. Forgione said he’s been working with any of the Mavericks who want to gain that extra 90 feet on the diamond.
“I taught the very eager guys that want to learn how to base run more and how to improve stealing,” Forgione said. “That’s right in my wheelhouse and I love it. So they they asked me a bunch of questions.”
He said his aggressive base running approach comes from his time in Washington.
“I brought with me their kind of aggressive style, good leads, smart leads, how to round bases properly, how to apply the pressure on the defense,” Forgione said. “So they’re thinking about us rounding that way, maybe they flub up a little ground ball and then it kicks away and we managed to get an extra 90 feet. If you get more extra 90 feet, the team who does that more usually wins.”
The Mavericks entered Tuesday’s contest against the Okotoks Dawgs undefeated, holding onto an 3-0 record. The Dawgs had the same unbeaten record entering the contest. The Mavericks fell 6-4 in extra innings to the Dawgs Tuesday night at Athletic Park.
Forgione said the Mavericks players who he’s only known for a week, have been well receptive to his coaching styles.
“Whatever kind of skill work drill that we decide to do or if they have a question about why we’re doing something a certain way, they don’t hesitate to come and ask why,” Forgione said. “We usually have a really good conversation out of it. They’re just super eager to learn and super eager to play in front of this awesome crowd and try and win some more ball games.”
With it still early in the year Forgione said he’s still trying to learn guys’ strengths and weaknesses and how to work on them in the short time of summer ball.
“They’ve been really, really good just to apply the kind of principles or the fundamental drills that we’ve done into the game,” Forgione said. “Summer ball is really tough too, because you’re playing consistently all the time. It’s tough to get that small, detailed work. But we have a pretty good structure here.”
Forgione is a name Mavericks fans will recognize as the assistant coach donned the Mavs red in 2014 when they won the WCBL championship. He said being in the stadium for the home opener Sunday and the atmosphere within was one of the main reasons why he came back.
“I think the atmosphere s second to none in this league,” Forgione said. “The fans have loved baseball here and the community loves baseball here. Greg (Morrison) does a great job of taking care of the players, the staff and supporting cast at the ballpark. It was just a great opportunity that he’s given me to come back and help coach The Medicine Hat Mavericks.”
He said he tracked the renovations via Instagram and said it’s a spot that any college player would want to play summer baseball at.
Forgione is living with Mavs head coach Tyler Jeske this season. He said the two of them are constantly talking baseball, and the relationship among the coaching staff is good because they share different opinions.
“Tyler and I, we talk about what’s the best for our organization, what is best for our team, lineup discussions,” Forgione said. “We all think a little bit differently which is good, because we can bounce ideas back and forth off each other about where a guy should be hitting in the lineup, where he should be playing field, who should be throwing next. We all have three different brains that bounce off the walls each other and usually come to a conclusion based off that.”