Tulsa Drillers' former manager gets new role with team
BY BARRY LEWIS World Sports Writer
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
2/13/13 at 5:13 AM
Duane Espy has filled many roles during 43 seasons in pro baseball - player, coach, roving instructor and manager.
Espy is looking forward to adding to that list with his new position as the Tulsa Drillers' development supervisor.
The parent Colorado Rockies are the first major league organization to add that position for each of its minor league teams.
Espy, who visited ONEOK Field on Tuesday before reporting to spring training in Arizona, spent the past two seasons as the Drillers' manager. Kevin Riggs moved up to manager from hitting coach, while Darryl Scott (pitching) and Darin Everson (hitting) were named coaches last week.
"I think this creates some tremendous opportunity to use my experiences in the game to maybe have more of an impact, by sitting back and looking at it from a different viewpoint, than I might have if I was in the dugout," Espy said. "I don't like to do something different just because it's different. But what is exciting to me is to do something different that can have an impact on the quality of what's going on. I am excited to look at things from a different perspective."
Espy will be in uniform in the dugout for some games but will probably watch most games from the stands.
"The manager is still the manager," Espy said. "Kevin will make out the lineups, he's running the workouts, he's managing the game. We'll talk every day before we work, we'll talk about lineups, talk about things happening, but that's no different than a year ago when I was the manager and Kevin was the hitting coach."
Just as was the case when he was manager, Espy will have the ultimate responsibility for the team's on-field production.
"Who is accountable for it? I am," Espy said. "The end result, whatever we create, the accountability falls back on me. In a corporate sense, it's like I'm a quality control person. I am creating a framework, I have expectations and I have things I think we need to accomplish and ways we need to do things. I'll let them do it. We'll make adjustments. Until we start doing this, who knows how it will work.
"My hope, I think it's realistic, is we will all be able to blend our ideas and make this a collaboration instead of me dictating or determining how everything is going to go. I want these guys to have input and want everybody to feel they have a voice and have an opportunity to implement their ideas. But ultimately I am the one accountable for what happens here in Tulsa from the standpoint of whether the players are getting their work done or are progressing."
Espy is hopeful that he can be a problem-solver and free the manager to do things that would otherwise take away time from working with the players.
"I'm an extra fulltime coach," Espy said. "That means more availability to work with players. I want to use my experience and knowledge to help facilitate to get things done."
The Drillers, coming off a 75-64 record in 2012 and their first playoff appearance since '07, could have about half of their roster return for this season. An uncertain major league roster situation going into spring training creates a domino effect that makes it hard to project which specific players will be with the Drillers when they open the season on April 4 and play their home opener on April 11 - both games against San Antonio.
Tulsa's lineup will likely be powered primarily by the outfield. Kent Matthes, who batted .214 but had a Drillers-high 17 homers last season, is likely to return, and so could Corey Dickerson, who had a combined .304 batting average with 22 homers and 81 RBIs between Tulsa and high Single-A Modesto. Outfield newcomers are likely to include Rafael Ortega, who batted .283 at Modesto and played briefly in the majors, and Kyle Parker, who batted .308 with 23 homers for Modesto.
"It seems that we have come up with serious depth in the organization at the outfield position," Espy said.
First baseman Kiel Roling also is a candidate to return for a third season with Tulsa after batting .261 with 13 homers and 48 RBIs in 2012. The rest of the infield could come from Modesto - shortstop Christhian Adames (.280), second baseman Timothy Smalling (.274), and third basemen Jayson Langfels (.280) and Brett Tanos (.275) along with first baseman-designated hitter Jared Clark (.236, 24 HRs, 95 RBIs).
Both of Modesto's catchers, Dallas Tarleton (.282) and Dustin Garneau (.243) could move up to Tulsa, although Jose Gonzalez (.230) may return to the Drillers.
Bishop Kelley graduate Parker Frazier (5-14, 3.88 ERA) and Dan Houston (10-10, 3.74), who are both in spring training with the Rockies, could return to the pitching staff. The rotation also may include Christian Bergman, who went 16-5 with a 3.65 ERA at Modesto, and top prospects Tyler Matzek (6-8, 4.62 at Modesto) and Tyler Anderson (12-3, 2.47 at low Single-A Asheville).
Also in the mix is Chad Bettis, a 2009 Rockies second-round draft choice who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury after going 12-5 at Modesto in 2011. Bettis could be used as a reliever.
"We have some good arms who are hopefully ready to make the jump," Espy said. "We have a lot of pitching depth. Everybody says Bettis is healthy and throwing well. We'll see what happens there."
Drillers key dates
April 4: Season opener at San Antonio
April 11: Home opener vs. San Antonio, 7:05 p.m.
June 19: First half ends at Springfield
June 25: Texas League All-Star Game at Springdale, Ark.
Sept. 2: Regular season ends at Springfield
Original Print Headline: New role exciting for Espy
Barry Lewis 918-581-8393
Former Tulsa Drillers manager Duane Espy talks to the media about his new role as the team's development supervisor on Tuesday at ONEOK Field. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World