When Kelso native Todd Naskedov was hired by the Houston Astros, it was slightly surprising to him.
“I never played pro ball,” Naskedov said. “When I started, that wasn’t even an option. If you didn’t play pro ball, you didn’t coach.”
Naskedov’s second season as the Astros’ rehabilitation pitching coach is underway, and the 1994 Kelso graduate is embarking on another year of chaos.
“Chaotic is a good word for it,” said Naskedov, 41. “Last year was my first year so it’s been a learning experience with the cadence and rhythm. It’s different, it’s hard to feel settled. The job itself is incredible. I spent most of my life teaching for eight hours so I could coach at the end of the day … It’s different. I don’t know how to explain it better than that.”
The primary role of a rehab pitching coach is to work on throwing programs in coordination with the team’s medical and strength staff. His job is to get them back to where they were before, or maybe for lack of a better term, “bulletproof them.”
“It’s a tough subject because what causes injury, we’re in the dark about all of it,” Naskedov said.
He said that one of the reasons he’s in the position he holds is the result of some open-mindedness and not necessarily because of some magic formula he created.
“The way you communicate with players comes with time. But the ability to be open-minded is big,” Naskedov said. “It’s the open-mindedness, the curiosity, that really made a difference.”
He credits time spent with former Sehome coach Gary Hatch, one of the state’s all-time winningest skippers, as a major enhancer of being so open-minded. Naskedov also spent two seasons with the Cowlitz Black Bears, and was a coach at Forest Grove High School in Oregon.
He’s spent the last few days en route to Texas, making stops in San Diego to visit with other coaches he’s worked with along the way. He won’t be in Peoria, Ariz. for Spring Training, but instead works with the minor leaguers until late-March.
“It’s great to be a part of it,” Naskedov said. “My job is to help guys throw a baseball better, so it’s tough to beat that. We take the approach that we want to help every guys become a big leaguer.”
When he interviewed for his current job, he was asked where he saw himself down the line. He didn’t know how to answer.
Perhaps after a few seasons, he can live a kid’s dream.
“I think it’s OK to say at this point that I’d love to be at the big-league level,” Naskedov said. “Maybe a bullpen coach, or even at the minor-league level.”