By Alexis Naucler
When a head coach of 27 years takes a leave of absence, someone has to step in and lead a team to a 10-3 overall record before heading into conference play.
This is exactly what Rudy Arguelles, Riverside City College’s assistant baseball coach, did when head coach Dennis Rogers announced his absence for the 2016 season.
Arguelles was born in Corona and has resided in the Inland Empire ever since.
Growing up, Arguelles played multiple sports, including football, basketball,track and field, soccer, and of course, baseball.
Out of the different sports he’s played, he mentioned football was one of his favorites because of the aggressiveness and intensity involved with the sport, which he has ingrained into the baseball culture at RCC.
“He’s really trying to make us an aggressive team, kind of have a culture more this year,” sophomore infielder Brody Weiss said. “An aggressive culture, kind of being relentless is what his big word has been, just being relentless the whole nine innings of the game.”
Although Arguelles has appreciated the aggressiveness and intensity of football, he has decided to focus on baseball, which he felt would fit him best and would be able to play for many years.
“In the long run, I knew where I was that if I was going to have a chance to extend my years, you know playing a sport, it was going to be baseball,” he said.
During his years at Norco High School, Arguelles’ baseball coach talked to him about Rogers, where he has been, what he has done and who he is. It was during a senior year All-Star game, that Arguelles finally met Rogers in person and knew right away who he wanted to play for.
“I was so dead set on being around him and being a part of his program and being under his tutelage,” he said.
Arguelles started at RCC in the fall of 1991, where after a semester, he decided to take a break to focus on working full-time to help support his family. He had a lot of experiences during his leave, including getting married and having a child.
Due to his tremendous passion for the game, Arguelles decided to return to RCC three years later and try out for the baseball team one more time.
“During that time I knew if I had the opportunity to have a second chance to come back I was not going to fail,” he said.
Getting back on the field, Arguelles played every position possible, from outfield, infield and even on the mound.
His time at RCC was of great importance to him, as he worked with very notable coaches such as Bob Miller, Scott Majors, Carl Sanchez, Jeff Shiner and Brian Green who have helped Arguelles build his baseball background.
“The time here allowed me to really understand and grasp what the game demanded. It allowed me to really solidify my foundation that I was able to carry over throughout the rest of my years collegiately and gave me a little opportunity to have some experience with the Angels,” he said.
When it was time for to transfer out of RCC, Arguelles had options as to where he could transfer, but it was his one trip to Arizona State that made the choice clear.
He then canceled all other college trips and decided on ASU, where he’d received a scholarship.
As one who never harped on the past or worried about the future, Arguelles has always lived in the moment, which was something Rogers instilled in him, and never worried about when and where he would receive a scholarship or who was going to recruit him.
“I never took away from what my agenda was on a daily basis, and that was how I am going to get better today and not worry about what the future was going to bring,” he said.
Arguelles transferred to ASU in 1996, where he majored in Communications in hopes of going into broadcasting or becoming a sports analyst.
“It was a goal of mine when I step foot on that campus that by the time my years were up as far as athletically I was going to have a degree in my hand no matter what.”
The Sun Devils eventually went to the College World Series in 1998, where they defeated Long Beach State, 14-4, in Game 11 on June 3. It was right before this game that Arguelles’ coach shared with him what every baseball player wanted to hear, that he was drafted by the Anaheim Angels.
“It was an absolute special moment … I still get emotional,” he said. “I took a sprint out to center field, gathered myself because we had a game to play and the goal was to win a National Championship there at that moment in time, so I allowed myself about 10 minutes then it was back on task.”
He graduated from ASU, degree in hand and went straight to play for the Angels’ single A affiliate the Cedar Rapids Kernels. The transition from playing in college to the minor leagues was a good experience for Arguelles, as he noticed the change in mentality and attitude.
“It was not so much a team concept more was it individual approach because the whole goal when you get in the minor leagues it kind of changes it’s about the individual, it’s about the progress and development of the individual because their goal and absolute goal is to reach the pinnacle, which is the big leagues.”
Arguelles finished his time with the Kernels in late 1999 to 2000 to then come back to where it all started, RCC, to begin his coaching career.
“It was more excitement to be able to contribute back to the program that allowed me to develop and grow and give me the opportunities,” he said.
As a baseball player, Arguelles never thought about getting into coaching until Rogers encouraged him to be a part of the program at RCC. Arguelles never found himself to be nervous or anxious about starting his career as a coach, but the transition from player to coach was tough for him, as his whole mentality had to change.
“In the younger days, that’s probably the hardest part I think for young coaches when they start out,” he said. “The toughest transition from a coaching standpoint was the mental side of things to where you expect things to be done, (and) expect actions to take place you wanna get in there and you want to do it yourself.”
Looking back at his playing days at RCC, transferring to ASU and being in the minor leagues, there was one person that Arguelles felt had the most impact on him “not only in the game but in life.”
That person was Rogers, who was admired for several reasons, including his uniqueness and knowledge of the game.
“He’s such an individual that pays attention to absolute detail with every element, every facet, every component that’s involved, not only with the game, but within life. He’s always looking to enhance, he’s always looking to add to, and he’s not one to be stingy … he’s always willing to give,” Arguelles said.
As Arguelles learned from Rogers and gained experience as a coach, he started to notice a change in his demeanor and the way he saw the game, saying he still has a lot of intensity, but has gained more control and is able to see more detail in the game.
“That’s the biggest area of growth that I have and that I feel now as when I started out,” he said. “The game has definitely slowed down.”
Since Arguelles has been under Rogers for 17 years, the transition from one to the other has not made a huge difference in the program. As freshmen Daniel Agramont put it, “He’s not skipping a beat from Rogers, he’s continuing the same tradition.”
“He can relate to us, under Dennis for so many years, I think he’s gotten kind of a concept of how things should be run rather than kind of going off nothing,” sophomore Casey Sheehan said.
With the Tigers at an 11-4 overall record, 1-1 in the Orange Empire Conference and finishing their first three-game series against Saddleback, it is evident that Arguelles has kept the baseball program here at RCC running smoothly.