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Bevos are family affair for Venables

Will is an outfielder and his dad, Max, is the hitting coach
by:  JIM CLARK, Portland Beavers hitting coach Max Venable (left) and son Will, an outfielder, have worked together before, two years ago with Fort Wayne (Ind.). “It’s nice to have your dad at the office, so to speak,” Will says.

Will Venable, outfielder with the Portland Beavers, says he doesn’t ask his father for permission to hang out late at night. “I’m a grown man,” says Venable, 25, smiling. “I can do whatever I want.” And Max Venable, first-year hitting coach for the Bevos, says he doesn’t make his son live with him and doesn’t bother Will very often about sitting down for meals together. “I tried to get out of the house my whole life,” Will Venable says, again smiling. “I’m not going to try to get back in.” It’s business as usual for the Venables, although Will admits: “It’s nice to have your dad at the office, so to speak.” Father and son were together one other time in their professional careers, two years ago at Fort Wayne (Ind.). Max, 50, spent parts of 12 seasons in the major leagues (1979-1991), with San Francisco, Montreal, Cincinnati and California, hitting .241 in 727 career games, mostly as a part-time utility man. He then began coaching in the pros. Along the way, the oldest of his three children would hang out at the ballpark, visit him in the clubhouse and run around the field, but Will also had another sport to play while growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. As the story goes, dad turned on the lights one night in the kid’s room, and Will was twirling his basketball. Will went to Princeton to play hoops under former Tigers coach John Thompson III (now at Georgetown) and get an Ivy League education, passing on the chance to stay close to home at Santa Clara. He didn’t play baseball as a high school senior or Princeton freshman. “Baseball was an afterthought,” he says. His mother, Molly, urged him to return to the sport, however, and Will became only the second Ivy League athlete to earn all-league honors in baseball and basketball, joining, coincidentally, current San Diego pitcher Chris Young, also from Princeton. Will, an anthropology major, went to Baltimore in the 15th round of the draft after his junior year and to San Diego in the seventh round in 2005. He hit .314 with 11 homers and 91 RBIs at Class A Fort Wayne two years ago and .287 with eight homers and 68 RBIs at Double-A San Antonio last season. The Padres talked about sending him back to San Antonio this year to play in center field every day, but an injury to Vince Sinisi left an outfield spot open with the Beavers. Will hopes he sticks here. “I don’t plan on going down,” he says. At 6-2, 205 pounds, Will has good size and strength and decent speed. He projects to be a .300, line-drive hitter in the big leagues. “He’s learning the strike zone, and how to look for pitches,” Max says. “Power will come in a couple years. He has to learn some good mechanics, stick to being a line-drive hitter and have a good plan at the plate. “He has also worked on his bat path — he tends to get a little loop in there.” Will was too young to study his father in action, but he has seen videotapes and heard all the stories. These days, he gets enough of Pops at work. “We spend about eight hours a day together,” Will says. “He’s completely professional. I don’t ask anything special of him, and he asks nothing special of me. If not for the name on the back of our jerseys, a lot of people wouldn’t know it’s my dad.” Sometimes, however, Max has a fatherly moment and “That’s my boy” runs through his mind. “Just to see him at this level, I’m very proud of him,” he says. But in baseball, lines are drawn. Players play the game and hang around other players, while coaches and managers run the team, develop players and report to the big league club “No favoritism,” Max says. “I treat him as I would everyone else.” This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.