Juan Dorado is the media trainee for the Gwinnett Braves this season. The native of San Pedro, Calif., worked for the Class A Palm Beach Cardinal a season ago and first came to Gwinnett as a member of the staff of the Georgia Force.
A high school and college baseball player, Dorado talks with staff writer Ben Beitzel about growing up a Braves fan, playing college baseball with Braves pitcher Kris Medlen and his ownership college baseball's single-season bunt record in this installment of "Getting to Know ..."
BB: You majored in English in college. How did you end up in marketing/communications?
JD: I did do an internship with my school in marketing and communications, but I was strictly an English guy. I got my B.A. in English.
BB: Why go the PR route instead of teacher and baseball coach?
JD: I still think that is a possibility. I always want to go back to baseball. It's first nature to me because of my playing. I'd like to be closer to the game. This is as close as I can get without physically playing. High school coaching has always been a possibility for me. Last year, when I was in Palm Beach, I worked with the high school so anytime I got a chance to go out, I could go out. This year I am trying to do the same thing around this area, trying to do some scout ball throughout the summer if I get a couple of days off here or there. I enjoy being around the field. I do like going and doing stuff. As far as teaching, I have never thought of myself as a teacher. I have always thought of myself as a coach. It's kind of one of those things, I am going to have to force myself to want to teach if I am going to coach.
BB: In southern California, did you grow up surfing, skating, anything?
JD: I was a big skateboarder, big skateboarder. I used to surf a little bit, but I wasn't as good at it. Even now I still want to get a skateboard and roll around here. I live a couple of miles from here so I have thought about getting a skateboard during the summer and just peddling down here. I think I could do it still. I think I would just skateboard here and not do tricks. I can't really do as much as I used to do.
BB: That's an interesting culture that exists more in California than it does down here.
JD: It's just a little bit more laid back. Being in your 20s or early 30s you see people just skateboarding around the beach or around the pier. Just more active, more wanting to do more fun things like that. When I was in my teens, I would try to do tricks and go off handrails and stuff like that. Now, I am not doing any of that.
BB: Did you ever fall or smash yourself in the face?
JD: I used to try to do like kick-flip off the ramp and try to grind on the bottom rails. Stuff like that. But, I did play baseball so my coaches weren't real fond of me doing it. When I was around 12 or 13, when I was playing on a real good scout-ball team, my coach physically took my skateboard away because he didn't want me to get hurt.
When I found out I was pretty good at baseball I didn't want break my wrist and ruin the rest of my sophomore or junior year. I tried to keep it as easy as I could. I never broke a bone, I strained a lot of wrists and ankles. I still have bad wrists problems and ankle problems from that.
BB: El Camino was one of your JUCO stops and you played with Kris Medlen?
JD: We were pretty good friends. I talk to him occasionally. Had a debate about his bobblehead (Wednesday). It was funny.
It was strange, when I was going to go there, I was being recruited to go to other bigger schools, but not on scholarship. He was one of the people who would recruit me, heavily, to go to El Camino at the time. Even when I got there, even though we played the same position (shortstop), he pretty much helped me out. Working out, on the field, batting.
BB: He is a pretty good batter.
JD: He was a real good batter in college. I think his freshman year he hit over .300 and had like two homers when he played at our school. He could tag some balls back in the day when he was at it. He was one of the most athletic guys I have ever been around, to tell you the truth. He would play eight innings at short, go like 3-for-3 and then he would come in and close. It didn't phase him at all.
BB: Was he so full of energy? I remember him running through the Gwinnett clubhouse.
JD: It was kind of hand-in-hand. He was super energetic on the field, but then in class he would be sleeping in class. It was the running joke when we were in school, the coach would always ask him, 'Kris, what are you majoring in?' He'd be like, 'Baseball.' He was always really wild. He always had a good time with everything. It was funny. He was good.
BB: You hold the college record, all classifications, for sacrifice bunts (38) in a season. How does that happen?
JD: My first year, I had 20 bunts. Later in the season, we weren't really a heavy-bunting team that year, we weren't very good that year. At the end of the year, if we would get a runner on base to begin the game, I was a two-hole hitter, so when we would get a runner on base at the beginning of the game, I would usually just bunt him over. Our success rate with that was like 50-60 percent.
Then the next year, I go home and I work out on my hitting and do everything I can to become this really good hitter for my senior year. (Coach tells me), 'Go bunt.' Everybody in our league knew I was going to bunt when there was a guy on base or nobody out. It wasn't like I was just bunting and there no one was crashing. I got really good at it, to the point where I was making these good bunts. I was putting them down pretty good. It kind of sucked. At the very beginning, it kind of ran into our game plan, so you got a sign. At the tail-end of it it was like, 'You know what's up, you don't need to look for a sign, you know what you have to do.' I was really competitive and wanted the team to do well. And it did help us because we had a really good pitching staff that year. In the back of my mind I was like, 'I am one of the better hitters on this team, I can hit. We can hit and run or something.'
BB: In your two years with the Cardinals and Braves, two spring trainings, has there been a cool moment for you, even though you played in college?
JD: I don't really get awestruck around any of the players, I did get to, a couple of years ago, Ken Rosenthal, I met Ken Rosenthal. Just meeting him was pretty cool. He was the baseball insider. Pretty much Buster Olney without being as weird. He was a really nice dude. It was weird. I thought he was going to be really cocky. He was really nice.
Other than that, there hasn't been really anything else. I am a big Braves fan so the only people I can honestly admit that if I met it would be like, 'Whoa!' would be Chipper Jones because he was my favorite player growing up and Bobby Cox.
BB: Was Rosenthal wearing his bow tie?
JD: He was wearing that sweet bow tie.
BB: How do you grow up a Braves fan in southern California?
JD: We used to get TBS. My family didn't have cable growing up, but my room as was the old TV den for the family that lived there before. When we got there, it was my room. I pretty much plugged my TV and put the cable wire that ran through it and I got channel 2 through 13 and TBS was channel 8. Every time I got home, 4 o'clock, there were the Braves. I grew up watching them. I grew up pretty much the whole Chipper Jones era. I used to wear No. 10.