Going to the Show
Former GJ Rockies manager Tony Diaz will be first-base coach for Colorado Rockies
Over the years, numerous people inside and outside of the Grand Junction Rockies, from clubbies to Todd Helton, have complimented Tony Diaz on his ability to build relationships.
Now, the former manager and developmental supervisor will get his shot on baseball’s biggest stage.
The Colorado Rockies announced their 2016-17 staff Thursday morning and Diaz will be the first base coach on manager Bud Black’s staff.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it. It just kinda came up,” Diaz said of coaching in the Major Leagues. “I managed in the Arizona Fall League and I started talking to the Rockies a couple weeks ago about it. I’m just thankful to be given the opportunity.”
Diaz was the Grand Junction Rockies’ first manager when the club moved from Casper, Wyoming in 2012. After that, he served as Grand Junction’s developmental supervisor, overseeing implementation of organization-wide developmental philosophies and practices.
Diaz, 39, has 17 years of coaching experience in the minor leagues, spending time as a manager and hitting coach in Casper. He was inducted into the Pioneer League Hall of Fame in 2013 and was Colorado’s player development “man of the year” in 2002. He’s had various stints as a manager and coach in the Arizona Fall League and Dominican Instructional League.
Grand Junction manager Frank Gonzales said Diaz’s promotion is well-deserved.
“His ability to have relationships with anybody is a strength that’s suited for every level,” Gonzales said. “But his ability to partner with Major League players, staff, media, fans — his toolset there is second to none.
“I’m just thankful I got to spend a whole lot of time with him and really experience the amount of information and expertise he has. Really, over the last four years, in extended spring (training) and working closely with him as my supervisor, and even more so as my friend, I don’t think you can really replace that.”
Diaz credited the hospitality of the fans and staff in Grand Junction and said he brings a simple mindset with him to the Majors.
“When we have our first-year players in rookie ball, we try to instill an aggressive mindset,” Diaz said. “We’re trying to find out how good a player can possibly be and the only way to do that is being as aggressive as possible in everything you do. I think from the minor leagues to the best teams in the Majors, they share that element of being aggressive. It’s one of those things. If we’re going to be an elite team, we’re going to have to be super aggressive. I’m excited to see how good this team can be.”