Clintonville native to coach North Carolina team
By Erik Buchinger
Clintonville native Justin Jirschele took the next step in the Chicago White Sox organization as the new manager of the Winston-Salem Dash.
Jirschele spent the previous two seasons with the Class A affiliate Kannapolis Intimidators in North Carolina.
Winston-Salem, also in North Carolina, is the organization’s Class A-Advanced team.
“I think at any workplace, everybody is in it to move up one step on the totem pole,” Jirschele said. “I’m fortunate the White Sox gave me the opportunity to move on to the High-A level and continue to help develop these young players into major league players and help us in Chicago ultimately.”
Jirschele guided Kannapolis to playoff appearances in the 2017 and 2018 seasons with an overall record of 143-132. He was named White Sox Minor League Coach of the Year in 2017.
Jirschele said he does not expect much of a difference from his previous position.
“The speed of the game will be quicker, and it’s another level up talent-wise,” Jirschele said. “As you move up each level, the game gets cleaner as well.”
Jirschele does not know what the team’s roster will look like this season, but he said he should see some familiar faces of players he managed the last two years.
“I’ve been enjoying it each and every day,” Jirschele said. “Every day I’m getting up to the ballpark knowing I have a job to do, and that’s to help guys move along to their journey to the major leagues.”
Jirschele was the youngest manager in minor league baseball when he started two years ago, but at 28 years old, he has had no challenges as a younger manager.
“There are some things that may be different as far as being a younger guy as opposed to a seasoned veteran, but I don’t think about my age a whole lot except when people ask me about it,” Jirschele said. “So far I haven’t had any challenges being younger.”
Jirschele played for Winston Salem in 2014 and 2015. He said it helps to relate with players knowing he was in the system as a player just a few years ago.
“Sometimes it helps a little bit in being able to relate to these guys,” Jirschele said. “I’m freshly removed from playing, so I think sometimes it benefits me and our players with me being so freshly out of the game as a player.”
Jirschele said he and his father Mike Jirschele, who is the third base coach for the Kansas City Royals, talk several times a week during the baseball season breaking down each other’s games.
“I would say throughout the course of the week, we talk on the phone at least five times,” Jirschele said. “It’s a lot. A lot of times it’s late-night phone calls where one of us will text when the game is over, and the other will immediately call.”
Jirschele said the two go through each other’s games and big moments from that night.
“Sometimes I’ll write things down on my phone or get a note pad from the office to jot down questions I have for him that may have come up that night,” Jirschele said. “We talk about baseball, and I continue to try and pick his brain on things. Things I see on a given night, he has probably seen several times over the course of his career.”
In the offseason, Jirschele resides in Madison where he lives with his wife Liz and their dog Enzo, named after Brett Lorenzo Favre.
Jirschele said he tries get away from baseball and enjoy other aspects of his life during the offseason.
“I get to unwind and get away from baseball a little bit,” Jirschele said. “I just try to spend as much time as I possibly can together with friends and family and cherish those times.”
Jirschele said he provides one-on-one hitting lessons as a side job in the offseason, but bird hunting and family comes first in the winter months.
“I do a lot of bird hunting and first and foremost spending time with the family,” Jirschele said. “My wife and I have our small family, so I like to meet with friends and family as much as possible because I’m gone for so long during the season.”
Jirschele has goals set for himself but said if he continues to work hard, he has a chance to reach his dream.
“Would I love to get to the big leagues some day? Absolutely,” Jirschele said. “At my age and just getting going, I don’t really think about it a whole lot. In order to get to the top, I have to continue to learn and never be satisfied with where I’m at. I’m fortunate enough to be in the position I’m in now. If I work hard and perform to the best of my abilities, the rest will take care of itself. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have goals, but right now it’s about how I can make the players I’m coaching better every single day.”