Story by BRETT HEIN • Standard-Examiner Staff
OGDEN — For Mark Kertenian, coaching in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ system sounds like a dream.
A native of Pasadena, California, Kertenian grew up a Dodgers fan. Like his players, the seasoned college baseball coach aspired to be a pro. When he made the decision to fully pursue that aspiration in summer 2016, the Dodgers moved to the top of his list.
“Having players drafted and signed, and having them return and talk to me about their experiences, it was becoming evident ... that the Dodgers and how they’re developing their farm system and staffs was the best,” Kertenian said. “It’s a very holistic and amazing approach to development, so I pursued the Dodgers heavily.”
Kertenian most recently coached at Florida International University as an assistant for the 2015-16 season. He was also an assistant at Nevada (2013-14) and Cal State Northridge (2001-10).
In his first year at Cal State Northridge, he coached 2016 Raptors manager Shaun Larkin, who is now a Dodgers minor league coordinator “specializing in infielders, team defense and contemporary practice styles,” Kertenian said.
Kertenian has spent the last six months with Dodgers brass at their spring training facility in Glendale, Arizona — including with Larkin and 41-year Dodger veteran John Shoemaker, the Raptors’ manager in 2015.
“He’s our godfather,” he said of Shoemaker. “It was hard to leave him.”
The first-generation Armenian-American said diversity in the Dodgers organization and “the growth that comes from it is what we get pumped about” — speakers of different languages from different countries can become strong as a team, he said.
As a manager, he said he’ll focus on being flexible in addressing the professional path of each player and keeping an eye on their future — “but it’s important to do it together,” he said. “Group success will promote personal success.”
With what he calls a gifted coaching staff, including former major league pitching coach Bobby Cuellar — “a wizard of pitching and the details of baseball” — he said one of his biggest tasks will be keeping the players’ momentum going after spring training and play at other levels of the minor leagues.
Another goal of Kertenian’s, for himself and his team: Get kids out to Lindquist Field.
“All the kids in Ogden that come to the games can come and hang out with us, say hello, and we’re going to ask a lot about who they are and where they’re from.”