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By BRIAN RICHESSON



Published: Mon, June 18, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



By BRIAN RICHESSON

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

Dave Turgeon's world travels were an education in baseball and life.

For a manager to feel secure with his players, he must feel secure with himself. That's why Turgeon feels a sense of confidence and peace as he begins his first year as manager of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

"Traveling is an experience in itself," said Turgeon, 36, the successor to Ted Kubiak, who's now managing the Class-A Columbus (Ga.) RedStixx.

"My traveling empowered me to believe I can do anything."

Along the way: Turgeon's baseball experiences took him to Holland and France, China and Mexico.

"That was pretty good baseball," Turgeon said. "It's not the major leagues, but the challenge is to be able to do your job and assimilate yourself to different cultures.

"You really have to be flexible, open-minded, and you really have to love the game."

A graduate of Davidson College, Turgeon was selected as an infielder by the New York Yankees in the 22nd round of the 1987 draft. He advanced to Double-A before being released.

Turgeon went to Europe and was converted into a pitcher, playing for the national champions from Holland ('91) and France ('92).

His next four years were spent playing in Taiwan, before he began a stint in Mexico that lasted into '99.

The end of Turgeon's career also included time with Triple-A Rochester, a Baltimore Orioles affiliate.

"As my career went on, I knew I wanted to stay in the game," said Turgeon, who resides in Norwich, Conn. "In what area, I wasn't sure."

Settling in: Turgeon discovered that managing would fit his personality, so he tested the position for the first time last year with the Rookie-League Burlington (N.C.) Indians.

"Dave is an intelligent, passionate and hard-working teacher," said Neal Huntington, director of player development for the Cleveland Indians. "He's got tremendous experience as a player. He knows what the young players in the game go through."

Turgeon said of managing, "You never know for sure until you do it. I hopped in there last year, and I thought it fit pretty good.

"I have a passion for the game," he said. "It's very easy for me to go to work every day."

Turgeon's first year at Burlington was an eye-opening experience, albeit one he handled.

"It's not just about looking out for yourself and a specific position," he said. "You've got about 30 guys on the roster and you've got lots of different areas you have to oversee. That was a great challenge for me."

Working with a number of young players in what Turgeon called "a college league," Burlington struggled to a 21-46 record.

"It's difficult to keep guys up all the time when they weren't really having success in terms of wins and losses," he said. "When guys are working hard [only to] lose every night, you have to find a way to keep things positive.

"The players, even though we struggled, still got better and we got guys to the next level," he said. "That's my job."

Maybe the biggest element that Turgeon learned in his managerial debut was patience.

"At our level and even in the short season, it's just absolutely necessary for patience and teaching," he said. "You have to create an atmosphere for players to flourish."

Level of consistency: Now that Turgeon has advanced a level in the Cleveland Indians farm system, his approach to the game and his players won't change much.

"These guys are going to be a little older, and we'll give them a little more rope and leeway -- but not always," Turgeon said of the 2001 Scrappers. "[Most of] these guys are in their first year of pro ball, and we need to teach them. They don't know anything about pro baseball."

Turgeon calls himself an aggressive manager, although he'll "let the game dictate how aggressive I can be," he said.

Assisting Turgeon this season will be pitching coach Ken Rowe and coach Rick Gutierrez.

richesson@vindy.com




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