NILES - Eighteen anxious baseball players turned their attention to the front of the room and listened attentively to the man speaking.
They absorbed every word, thought about every suggestion and wondered how they could make a good impression on this former Major League all-star who will be their surrogate father for the next three months.
That's one of the many aspects of being the Mahoning Valley Scrappers manager that Travis Fryman relishes. Impacting the lives and careers of young players is part of the reason he asked the front office of the Cleveland Indians if he could return to the Mahoning Valley for a second season.
His wish was granted, and Fryman, a former all-star third baseman for the Indians, couldn't be happier about it.
"That's certainly one of the best parts of this particular job," he said. "The new faces each and every year. Being the guy who gets the first look at the new players coming in. A large part of my job description is evaluating these players and beginning to establish our plan for these young men for the next three to five years of their career."
Being able to severely impact and mold the way a person plays for the remainder of his career is why Fryman said he sincerely enjoys his role in the organization. Players at the major-league or Triple-A level generally already have their playing style and habits - good and bad - set by that time, and thus it's a very difficult job to further their development, Fryman said.