Steve Scarsone describes his first major league call-up vividly, as if nowhere near 20 years have passed. His manager at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre called him in after a May game in Richmond and, stone-faced, began chiding him for a high relay throw. That kind of thing, the manager insisted, wouldn't fly in Philadelphia.
"He said, 'You'd better clean that up, because you're going to the big leagues tomorrow,' " Scarsone recalled. "I'd say I remember it."
He's curious now to experience that type of exchange from the other side of the desk. Scarsone, 46, was named the new manager of the River Cats on Wednesday, becoming the fifth manager in the team's history.
Scarsone, who managed the Double-A Midland affiliate of the Oakland A's the past two seasons, replaces Darren Bush, who was named Oakland's bullpen coach last month after guiding the River Cats to back-to-back division titles.
"It's something I'm obviously excited about," Scarsone said by phone. "It's a great winning atmosphere there. They've got a great reputation, not only on the field but off the field with the front office and the ownership group there."
It will be Scarsone's fifth season managing in the A's system. He spent 2009 at Class-A Kane County and 2010 at High-A Stockton before managing Midland in 2011 and 2012, compiling a total record of 277-281.
"I'm pretty traditional," Scarsone said of his managing style. "I try to teach the game, try to teach the ways of doing what you have to do to not only succeed as a player but as a team.
"The last couple years in Midland we didn't quite put together the games that we hoped to, but as we saw guys coming up to Sacramento, I think they've been able to do well."
Scarsone, who played parts of seven major league seasons, including four with the Giants, also managed two years in the Arizona Diamondbacks' system in 2001-02 before stepping away from baseball for six years to spend more time with his wife and children, who were then in elementary school.
Eventually, Scarsone said, "the bug got back in me." He was working in real estate in Phoenix at the time.
"The funny line is I got back into baseball for the stability," Scarsone said.
As a player, Scarsone also spent all or part of 11 seasons in the minors experience he said he can draw on managing a level below the big leagues, where players may either be hoping for a call-up or smarting from a demotion.
Scarsone said he has "been warned" about possible roster instability. The River Cats finished a Pacific Coast League-best 86-58 last season despite making 173 roster moves, as the A's have proved open to promoting promising minor leaguers.
"It's just the way that Oakland does things," Scarsone said. "We've got to be prepared for a move at any time. I think that's one of the reasons why they've had success in Sacramento on a regular basis is because every player on that roster knows that he's got an opportunity to make it to the big leagues."
Keith Lieppman, Oakland's director of player development, said in a statement that the A's "are pleased to promote Steve to Sacramento after exhibiting outstanding leadership and development skills at the minor league level.
"He not only has shown good leadership qualities as a manager but also is a proven teacher and instructor. We believe he will carry on in the fine tradition of the outstanding young managers that have led the River Cats throughout their history."
The A's also announced that Rick Rodriguez, bullpen coach in Oakland the past two seasons, will rejoin the River Cats as pitching coach, a role Rodriguez previously held in Sacramento in 2000-02 and 2004-10.
Scott Emerson, the River Cats' pitching coach since 2011, was named the A's minor league roving pitching instructor. Greg Sparks will return for his second season as the River Cats' hitting coach.