GJ Rockies’ Diaz gets a promotion
Sanders is team's new manager, Diaz to supervise development
Tony Diaz will return to Grand Junction this summer, but the popular field manager of the Grand Junction Rockies won’t be in the third-base coaching box.
Instead, Diaz will be the development supervisor for the GJ Rockies as part of a reorganization of the entire minor league system.
Anthony Sanders, the hitting coach at Tri-City since 2007, is the Rockies’ new manager.
Sanders, who did not return a phone message Monday, was drafted in 1992 by Toronto and played parts of three seasons in the majors with the Blue Jays and Seattle. He spent parts of 14 seasons in the minor leagues, including 2004 at Colorado Springs.
Each minor league affiliate will have a development supervisor, on-field manager and coaching staff.
Diaz will move from the dugout to a spot in the stands or press box during games. In a news release issued by the Major League club Monday, the development supervisor is “a leadership role that is highly responsible for the oversight and implementations of the Colorado Rockies development philosophies and practices.
“The Development Supervisor will be a team-builder who will create synergy among staff members so that they may generate and evaluate best practices on a daily, weekly, monthly and season-long basis.”
The release said the development supervisor will “creatively seek out solutions to issues and challenges, so that we establish a foundation of winning with a focus on the professional and personal development of our players.”
Diaz, who recently wrapped up working with players during winter ball in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, is spending a few days with his children in Tucson before reporting to spring training.
“It’s kind of like a field coordinator, but I’ll be watching mostly from the stands,” Diaz said Monday. “I’ll still be working on the field, doing all the pregame work, but for the most part I’ll be there day-in and day-out with the team and making sure the development of the players and staff is (progressing) according to what our philosophy is.”
Diaz said it will be an adjustment for him not to be managing the game from the field. He’s excited about the new position, which still has him traveling with the team and working with the players every day.
“To watch the game from that vantage point, there is a lot of stuff in the dugout you miss,” Diaz said. “You have that angle, and another set of eyes, thinking the game like you would managing, I don’t see why that won’t help.
“You have to try things. The game has been around almost 200 years, and there have been a lot of changes to a very traditional game. Some work, some don’t, but the only way you find out is by trying.”
Last summer, the Colorado Rockies elevated Bill Geivett to oversee the day-to-day operations of the big club, reporting to Dan O’Dowd, the executive vice president/chief baseball officer/general manager. O’Dowd’s duties now include overseeing the minor league franchises.
Five of the six minor league clubs will have new managers this season. Drew Saylor, the GJ Rockies’ hitting coach last summer, was promoted to the Tri-City (short-season A) manager.
Replacing Saylor as GJ’s hitting coach is Lee Stevens, a varsity baseball coach at Highlands Ranch High School the past five years and a hitting instructor at Slammers Baseball facility in Centennial.
Stevens was a first-round draft pick of the California Angels in 1986 and played eight years in the majors with California, Texas, Montreal and Cleveland.
The Rockies have trimmed the number of roving instructors, with the idea the instructors will rotate through the minor league clubs on a regular basis.
One other major change is former Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca, who asked to be reassigned during last season, and was an assistant to O’Dowd. Apodaca is now the assistant pitching coordinator, working with pitching coordinator Doug Linton, formerly the Sky Sox pitching coach.