Midland, Mich. - The Los Angeles Dodgers announced in December that Razor Shines would return to the Great Lakes Loons in 2013, but in an expanded role, moving from hitting coach to manager. Shines was in Midland on January 29-31 to meet with media members, along with fans and supporters of the Loons.
"It's been a fun visit," Shines said. "It's been a cold visit, but it's been a fun visit. I've been able to sit down and talk with people that I know here. It was great to have breakfast at a few places that I didn't know about last year. It's going to be a fun season. We have an exciting team and I can't wait to get started."
Shines arrived in Midland on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 29, and hit the ground running on Wednesday morning when he headed to the Bay City YMCA, along with several members of the Loons organization, to provide breakfast for fans who were heading to and from their morning workouts. Later on Wednesday afternoon, Shines was at Pizza Sam's in Midland to eat lunch at Pizza Sam's with some Great Lakes supporters.
Shines closed out his time in Mid-Michigan on Thursday morning at Cumulus Radio, going on several talk shows to discuss his new position and the upcoming season.
"My favorite part of the visit was going on the radio talk shows on Thursday morning," Shines said. "It was fun. I had three different stints on the radio and it was very interesting."
The Durham, N.C. native, who played four seasons for the Montreal Expos in the 1980s, has eight seasons of managerial experience and over 500 wins in his career. This is his third season in the Dodgers organization, all of which have been in Midland, and his eighth stint as a manager. He has managed in the Phillies, Red and White Sox organizations.
"Because I've been doing this for so long, I understand what to do and how to do it," Shines said. "I have the ability to communicate with kids and to get kids on the same page. That's one of the things that I think I do best and I think that's going to help me."
Shines, who has been in the Dodgers organization for two years as a part of the Loons, also thinks that his experience in Midland over the last two years has prepared him for this position.
"It's going to help a lot," Shines said. "I've been to most of the places that we're going to go. It'll take a little bit of the pressure off me, knowing the lay of the land. Midland is a great place. Everybody that I've met here is outgoing, fun and has a smile on their face. It's one of the best ballparks in America. Opposing teams like coming in here to play. Our kids like playing here. It's going to be a fun year."
Shines lives in Austin, Texas, in the offseason and if there is one thing that he does not like about Midland, it is the cold weather. He added that it can take time for some players to adjust to that.
"No matter what I say, it's not going to help," Shines said. "I'm going to tell them that it's going to be cold, but when your body feels this, that's when you'll adjust. Mentally, you can expect it to be cold, but once you get off that plane, it's a bit of a shock."
The former Expo wants to be able to put pressure on the defense with a lineup that can get on base and create some havoc on the basepaths.
"I'm hoping that we have the kind of team that has a lot of speed," Shines said. "I'm hoping that we have some guys who can put the ball in play, hit and run, get some bunts down, move some runners over and go from first to third on singles."
As much as Shines talked about how much he liked Midland, including some places that he just discovered, it was clear what his favorite thing about the town was
"My new favorite restaurant is Stackers," Shines said. "It was outstanding and I highly recommend it. But my favorite thing about Midland is the Great Lakes Loons. Baseball is what I'm here to do and that's what I'm going to do."