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Crew's new skipper on board

By CATHY BREITENBUCHER

April 21, 2011

Ron Roenicke (left) surveys the field during spring training.


Ron Roenicke played in the 1984 World Series and won a championship ring as a coach with the 2002 Los Angeles Angels. Can he bring a title to Milwaukee as the Brewersí new manager? Before heading to spring training, Roenicke talked with M writer Cathy Breitenbucher.

How does the addition of starting pitchers Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum affect the team chemistry?
It doesnít change the way we go about doing things, but it changes the attitude of the fans, the attitude of some of the players. It excites them, because if we have the same kind of offensive year (as in 2010) and now we have this great starting staff, weíve got a really good chance to win.

Attendance was almost 2.8 million last year. How do you personally plan to connect with the fans, to keep their interest strong and positive?
I want the focus to be on the guys. Iím going to get criticized for some things I do. Thatís fine, thatís part of the job. Say we succeed as a team ó I donít want this to be because of me. Itís because of the guys.

Youíre the fan in the stands. Whatís more fun to watch: a walk-off home run, a no-hitter by a pitcher or a double steal?
The walk-off homers and no-hitters are huge ó donít happen all that often. The double steals or just the plain stolen base, hopefully thatís going to happen a lot.

Itís been said you have good people skills. How do you "coach" fun in the clubhouse?
There are little things a manager can do, but I think most of it is trying to get the personality out of the players. If you can just get the players to relax Ö to laugh, to have fun and to play their game, if you have a good team and good quality players, theyíll come out of a slump quicker than being uptight about things.

Describe yourself as far as someone with a passion for the game.
Iím pretty consistent in my personality. Thereís not a lot of real highs and not lows. I try to stay positive. I need to care about whatís going on off the field and make sure everythingís fine there. If I can help with anything, fine. It may be just picking up a guy, just walking by and picking him up a little bit.

Do you have a favorite sports movie or a sports movie moment?
"Brianís Song" is one of my favorites, with the adversity that some people go through, and keep coming back. "Hoosiers" is just a great movie. It talked about the mental part of it a lot, and how people struggle with different things, and sticking with people.

Do you have special memories of some of the old stadiums that donít exist anymore?
The first time in Detroit, our first baseman, Pat Putnam, hit three home runs in one game. The third one, the right fielder would have caught the ball but it hit the upper deck ó it hit that thing that protruded out. Yankee Stadium, going out to the monuments and looking at those things was pretty impressive. Candlestick, how cold that place was. The elements were so tough, the wind and the cold.

You have a sense of the history of baseball, and thatís one of those things that connects with fans, the continuity of the game over the years.
I think so. Free agency has changed some of that, because players move around so much. The Angels in 2002, fans got really attached to those guys. When Scott Spezio came back, after heíd left the Angels, there was a big ovation for him and what he had done for the Angels. Those things are pretty neat when they happen.

Are you planning to move to Wisconsin?
I still live in southern California. I do like the warm weather. When we have off days, Iím looking forward to (being in Wisconsin). I love the outdoors, I love to fish and hunt and I do play golf. All three of those things really fit.

Youíll have to get Uecker to take you out on the lake.
Does he fish a lot?

The View from the Dugout

Roenicke played for six teams in the majors from 1981-88. Thatís a lot of teammates and opponents. Among those he most enjoyed watching:

Ľ Tony Gwynn: "Just watching how much time he put in the batting cage and hitting and studying it."

Ľ Mike Schmitt: "Very serious, just nobody prepared harder than he did."

Ľ Fernando Valenzuela: "A fun personality, you know, he just had this great sense of humor."

The Making of a Manager

Ron Roenicke explains how some of his former bosses influenced him:

Ľ Del Crandall, minor leagues, Seattle Mariners: "Del is a very intelligent guy, a very intelligent baseball mind, but he could make things really simple so we were able to execute what it was he was trying to get us to do."

Ľ Tommy Lasorda, LA Dodgers: "A really fun manager to play for. He could motivate you, you enjoyed playing, you had excitement. I donít have that same personality, so I have to kind of create what I can with the personality that I have."

Ľ Mike Scoscia, LA Angels: "Watching him over the years, the way he handled the press, the way he handled players Ö whether a guy was slumping or when heís in that great groove."

 


This story ran in the April 2011 issue of: