Special to MLB.com |/
VERO BEACH, Fla. — While some motivational speeches tend to repeat cliches, former Astros manager and current Braves executive Bo Porter took a different route on Monday night when speaking to players at the Elite Development Invitational at historic Dodgertown.
“The next generation of All-Stars, they’re sitting in this room right here!” Porter told the players. “We’re going to do everything that we can to make sure you’re prepared.”
Porter provided players at the Elite Development Invitational with humor, grit and optimism during a 30-minute-long presentation. Houston’s manager from 2013-14 and a coach for four other teams, Porter — currently a special assistant to Braves general manager John Coppolella — was the fourth presenter in five nights for attending players.
Senior vice president of youth programs Tony Reagins, Major League Baseball youth consultant Jerry Manuel and Hall of Fame outfielder Dave Winfield all previously spoke.
Introduced by Reagins as someone who had seemingly done it all at the highest level — play, coach and work in a front office — Porter discussed everything from growing up in Newark, N.J., to a model structure players can follow to achieve their dreams.
Part of that, Porter emphasized, comes from being proactive and wanting to reach those dreams.
“Success is intentional and deliberate,” Porter said. “If you talk to a successful person, it’s not having chance or all of a sudden they ended up being a very successful person. You have to take charge of your future, and you have to be proactive when you take charge of your future.”
Having managed several current All-Stars with the Astros, Porter told players of a 2013 encounter with Jose Altuve. After signing a long-term extension with Houston, Altuve’s effort in the field disappointed Porter, who called him into his office one day.
“He goes, ‘Skipper, new guy today. I went to the mall — I got a new backpack, a new watch. I’m feeling great,'” Porter recalled. “I told him, ‘Sit down.’ I told him I don’t like the new guy. He looked at me and I told him, ‘I liked the old guy, before the contract.'”
Porter was originally planning on benching Altuve for lack of hustle, but he kept the second baseman in the lineup when Altuve accepted and admitted his mistake. Since that day, Porter noted, Altuve — who has made four consecutive All-Star Games — leads the league in hits.
When Altuve returned to Astros camp in Kissimmee, Fla., the next year, he apologized again.
“The job of a coach is for someone to tell you what you don’t want to hear,” Porter said. “He told me, ‘I’m going to do everything to help this team win. I believe in this team, and I believe in you.’ That’s coaching.”
Rather than close on a baseball motif, Porter stepped away from the sport for his final words of advice.
“Yesterday is gone, tomorrow’s not here yet; the only chance I have to be great is right now,” Porter said.