USA Today Sports
NASHVILLE -- My big takeaway from Tuesday afternoon press conference featuring Walt Weiss, the Colorado Rockies' new manager: Weiss isn't real comfortable with the word "data". He's okay with "information". But data ... that's a bit of a tongue-twister for the longtime shortstop.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Weiss has never managed a baseball team, at any level. But as he noted, "I think Robin [Ventura] and Mike [Matheny] certainly knocked down some walls for someone like me."
When asked when he started to think about someday managing, Weiss said it wasn't until the late stages of his career, when he spent a lot of time watching games from the bench. That was with the Braves, where, Weiss said, "I got to look at Bobby Cox, and see how he did things."
Early in his career, Weiss spent five seasons playing for Tony La Russa in Oakland. In between, he was managed for one year by Rene Lachemann -- who's now, coincidentally or not, the Rockies' new pitching coach -- and four years by Don Baylor, when Weiss was playing shortstop for the Rockies. Regarding the special challenges that come with playing home games a mile high, Weiss said, "My first year in Denver was an eye-opener. But I wasn't real smart."
Will Todd Helton, who struggled last season in limited action, return to the Rockies in 2013? "I hope so," Weiss said. "I was talking to him, and I told him, 'You're gonna be one of those guys who can still hit a ball in the gap when you're 52."
On Dante Bichette, the Rockies' new hitting coach: "He was great with two strikes, really good with runners in scoring position. He always had a plan, in his mental approach... Dante was great at that. If Dante can let [the hitters] into his mind, that will make him an outstanding hitting coach."
No doubt. For the record, Bichette's clutch-hitting statistics were almost exactly what you would expect from a player who did a lot of his hitting in Colorado.
Weiss did acknowledge rookie catcher Willin Rosario's defensive struggles last season, he also said, "The kid's gonna be a good defensive catcher in this league. To be honest with you, that's not a concern."
Which still leaves Bichette to work on Rosario's on-base percentage ...