Dick Monfort entered the room inside Coors Field to a sound he hasnt heard in quite some time applause.
Im a little surprised because people usually dont clap for me when I walk in, the Colorado Rockies owner said Friday to a room full of fans.
Sorry, they actually were reacting to the person following closely behind Monfort the fan favorite now given the responsibility of resurrecting the Rockies.
Walt Weiss remains quite popular after spending four seasons with the Rockies as a gritty shortstop. And now the team is hoping he can bring that tenacity to his new role as he makes the rare leap from high school coach to major league manager.
He steps in for Jim Tracy and is given the task of turning around a young squad thats coming off a franchise-worst 64-98 season. To add to that pressure, Weiss only has a one-year deal to transform the team, not to mention a Rockies executive looking over his shoulder from an office right next to his in the clubhouse.
Weiss knows exactly what hes getting into, fully ready to reward the Rockies leap of faith in him.
There is no question the pink elephant in the room is I havent done this before, Weiss said. This is a job that Im going to have to figure out on the fly.
Before this job, Weiss only head coaching job was at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, where he led his sons team to a 20-6 record and a spot in the state semifinals last spring.
Still, Weiss learned from some of the best in the business during his 14-year playing career. He plans to incorporate Tony La Russas vision of the game and Bobby Coxs ability to create a winning culture into his own managerial persona. He also will rely on Pittsburgh skipper Clint Hurdle for some friendly advice from time to time.
There is a blueprint there for me, on how to deal with players and develop that trust, he said. But when it gets down to it, you have to be yourself. When you try to be someone else, its fake. And fake doesnt work, especially with the players.
Players love real they know it, and they can smell it.
Although he technically only has a contract for next season, Weiss said hes not the least bit concerned. He wants to earn his paycheck.
If you dont do the job, youre gone, Weiss said. So, thats of no concern for me. I have to do the job. I have to get a club to play hard and play the game right. Thats all Im focused on. I could care less about the terms of my contract, to be honest.
The Rockies feel the same way and dont really understand all the fuss being made over the one-year deal.
I dont think the term of the contract, to me, is a real big issue, said senior vice president of major league operations Bill Geivett, who occupies that aforementioned office in the clubhouse.
As a big-league shortstop, Weiss was known for his intensity and passion. He understands he may have to dial it back as a manager.
You have to keep your emotions in check because guys are watching you, Weiss said. Ill lose my temper from time to time, lose my cool, but thats just competition.
His first move on the job was bringing back Tom Runnells as bench coach. Runnells also was a candidate for the manager job when Tracy resigned Oct. 7 with one year and $1.4 million left on his contract rather than return to a club where he split his clubhouse responsibilities with Geivett.
Other coaches have yet to be decided. Jason Giambi, who also interviewed for the managerial job, could be a serious candidate for the hitting coach position should he choose not to continue his playing career.
Weiss will have help from Geivett, who began focusing on roster management Aug. 1, particularly as it related to the pitchers.
Any issues with that arrangement?
Its not a great concern of mine, Weiss said. I look at it as a great resource for me. He knows the game well. Hes got a sharp mind. There is going to be a bit of a learning curve for me, no matter how much time Ive been around the game. Twenty-one years at the big-league level and Ive still never sat in the managers seat, so Im not afraid to say that.
Hes a guy that Ill lean on, as well as other guys on our staff, until I find a rhythm on the job. Its not an issue for me. Its not a concern.
Weiss does have the freedom and flexibility to be the kind of manager he envisions.
No doubt about it, Geivett said. Walt has that capability to be a long-term answer ... put us on the path of where we want to be.