GJ Rockies’ Sanders excited about first managerial job

Anthony Sanders has a good idea of the type of player he’ll have on his first team as a professional baseball manager.

The new skipper of the Grand Junction Rockies worked with several of those players in the fall instructional league after last season ended, and with more players in winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

And he’ll be working with many of his charges later this month when they report to spring training at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“This is something I’ve wanted to do since I got into pro ball,” Sanders said Tuesday during a phone interview with The Daily Sentinel.

“I got my feet wet coaching the past eight years. Extended spring training not only do the players get extra work, the coaches do as well. I’ve managed quite a bit down there with the extended program. I think I’m prepared.”

The 38-year-old former outfielder, drafted by Toronto in 1992, has worked quite a bit with Tony Diaz, who will take over as the GJ Rockies development supervisor.

The two haven’t talked about how the day-to-day operation will run once the Rockies open minicamp here in June, but there will be time for that over the next couple of months in spring training and extended spring training.

“To be honest, our whole staff in the organization is anticipating spring training and the first meeting as a group and get a feel for what direction we’re going in with that new position,” Sanders said.

“As far as Tony, I couldn’t ask to work with a better guy. I’ve known him for years.”

He likes the idea of Diaz coaching during minicamp and the pregame work.

“Another person out there full-time is priceless,” Sanders said. “It’ll save my arm from batting practice.”

With the high turnover of players in the low minors, Sanders knows he’ll have a new crop of players every year, but he likes that aspect of the job.

“For me, it’s a good opportunity to see young guys in their first experience and see how excited they are,” he said. “Sometimes you work with older guys who are burned out.

“These guys all think they’re going to be in the major leagues in a year or two. They’ve got good, positive attitudes, and they come in and work. It’s the chance of a lifetime.

“It’s a really good time for them to make their debuts and get their feet wet. They’re all eyes and ears and absorb everything.”

After spending the past eight years as the hitting coach in Tri-City (short-season Class A), Sanders is eager to bring his style to the Rookie level in Grand Junction. He played in the Pioneer League when he was at the Rookie level with Toronto.

“My thing is to get to know some of the guys and have them get to know me. We’ll get a few games under our belt and see what kind of challenges we have,” he said. “We’ll put things together a little bit more after that. I love having the opportunity to give everyone a fair opportunity to showcase what they have.

“Bottom line, I’d love to come in and win right away. If we can develop the majority of those kids and they’re playing in the major leagues, at the end of the day, I did my job.”


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