Rockies' Weiss touts defense, pitching
BY JANIE MCCAULEY Associated Press
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
2/13/13 at 5:11 AM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - If Ramon Hernandez's big smile and immediate, positive remarks about the first day of work under Walt Weiss provided any insight, the Colorado Rockies believe they have the man to manage their club back into a winner.
"I'm thrilled," Hernandez said, lugging his catching gear inside Tuesday afternoon. "It went great!"
Weiss led his pitchers and catchers through their first spring training workout Tuesday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick and made one thing certain: His team will play defense, and that will start by turning double plays. Plenty of them.
He preached fundamentals in the field, knowing he has the offensive talent to score runs.
"There's a clear vision of what we're trying to do," Weiss said. "The next step for us in our development as a club is learning to win. There are a lot of things in place already. It's that next step for these guys."
All eyes will be on Weiss to see whether he can make the remarkable jump from high school dugout to managing in the majors with no other head coaching jobs in between.
Just last spring, Weiss was at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colo., where he guided his son's team to a 20-6 record and a spot in the state semifinals.
He certainly looks the part so far.
Weiss will make a point to spend the early weeks getting to know each of his players, particularly the pitchers he's not as familiar with at this stage. In order to compete in the pitching-heavy NL West, Colorado will have to find a way for its rotation to stay in the close games against talented staffs on reigning World Series champion San Francisco, new-look Arizona and the big-spending Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Rockies' starters won only 20 games at Coors Field last year. Rotation mainstays Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa and Juan Nicasio were rehabbing rather than pitching, while Drew Pomeranz and Alex White struggled as the faces of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade with Cleveland.
Chacin and De La Rosa "are full go, and that's a good thing," Weiss said.
Still, there's a lot of work to do for Colorado's pitchers. Establishing a rapport with them is the first step for Weiss.
"Big part of the process," he said. "We keep talking about trying to build an atmosphere where players can thrive and where they respect each other, respect the staff, they trust us."
Original Print Headline: Rockies' Weiss touts defense and pitching
New Colorado Rockies manager Walt Weiss watches a spring training workout Tuesday in Scottsdale, Ariz. DARRON CUMMINGS / AP