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Small victories key to development for Mud Hens

For Mud Hens manager Doug Mientkiewicz, his main goal is to develop his players. But part of that development is creating a winning culture in Toledo.

For Mientkiewicz that starts with gaining small wins – learning a new skill, mastering an adjustment, or winning a one-on-one matchup.

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Mud Hens manager Doug Mientkiewicz tries to keep his hands warm while coaching third base Wednesday against the Durham Bulls.

Blade/Lori King Enlarge

“I think winning is probably the main factor in developing,” Mientkiewicz said. “Winning is a broad term. People think of winning and they think of just games. No, we try to think of it like if we are teaching a skill or some other adjustment we are trying to make, if he wins the skill we are trying to learn, then we all win. If you win enough of those then you win the game at the end. If you try to teach a skill to a player and it’s not working out and he’s getting beat all the time, he doesn’t have trust in you.”

With a 4-3 win over Durham on Wednesday, the Mud Hens are 9-3 overall and have won four straight games.

Mientkiewicz said he is beginning to see some of that culture in Toledo already.

“We try to make small adjustments and understand that that goes into winning,” Mientkiewicz said. “Obviously the feel you have of a club when you are winning is better than when you are losing. It’s a mindset that you try to get your guys to buy into it. If you take care of your job and we play the game we are taught to play, then the wins will take care of themselves. It doesn’t matter who we are playing, we are going to play our game and it kind of steamrolls and they start to get a good feel.”

Mientkiewicz has seen his fair share of winning as a minor-league manager, winning a Florida State League title with High-A Fort Myers in 2014 and a Southern League title with Double-A Chattanooga in 2015.

He credits this years’ group of players with the early season start.

“It goes to the guys,” Mientkiewicz said. “They all have really good attitudes and they come to work every day. We have the freedom to say things are going well, but we can still tinker with stuff to make it better. They are open to suggestions. A lot of coaching to me is rapport with the player. If he feels comfortable enough to tell you, ‘Hey, I don’t like it’ or ‘this doesn’t feel right’ then there are other ways we can go about it. That’s more of a credit to those guys than it is for us.”

Mud Hens catcher Grayson Greiner said there is something to be said for individual goals of making it to the big leagues, but playing winning baseball is still the main focus.

“We have fun when we win,” Greiner said. “Obviously everybody’s goal is to get up to the big leagues, but at the same time no one likes losing. It’s a lot more fun playing this game when you are winning and personally I hate losing. It’s never a fun night when you have to come back to clubhouse after a loss. There are a lot of guys in this clubhouse that feel the same way.”

Contact Brian Buckey at bbuckey@theblade.com419-724-6110, or on Twitter @BrianBuckey.

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