By Jon Weisman
As a rookie manager who neither pitched nor caught in his big-league career, Dave Roberts will be scrutinized for every move he makes with the Dodger pitching staff. (I know — I could have just begun, “As a manager.”)
Today, Roberts spoke about his approach will be, and how he will use pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and bench coach Bob Geren as resources.
“It’s obviously going to be my decisions,” Roberts said, “but there’s going to be some input and some dialogue. But I think a lot of the dialogue is going to happen before the game. I like to have matchups and ideas of potentially the different ways (the game) could play out beforehand, and see what kind of direction I like to go.
“Then obviously, you’ve got to pay attention to the game and see how that goes and how that develops. I think the manager-pitching coach relationship is very important to managing a bullpen, and obviously listening to the bench coach’s input as well, but ultimately those decisions are going to fall on me.”
Honeycutt stands out as the most veteran returning member of Roberts’ coaching staff — and someone who was part of the organization back when Roberts was a Dodger outfielder.
“Rick was the minor-league pitching coordinator when I played for the Dodgers,” Roberts said. “Over the years, we’ve had conversations in passing and had that mutual respect. Talking to a lot of the pitchers, they are very fond of him. (In terms of) the numbers, you see how successful he’s been. I think that a big part of winning baseball is pitching — maybe the biggest. And so to have him and to have that continuity with the pitching staff for me was huge.
“We’ve had numerous conversations, and he was gracious enough to head down to Nashville (during the Winter Meetings) for a day, so we spent time in Nashville and caught up on a lot of things. He’s excited and I’m excited, so I think the relationship is going to be just great.”
As for who the pitchers are that Roberts will be managing, additions are coming — even if they’re not coming as fast or loud as Dodger fans would like.
“I think it’s impressive for the group not to be reactionary,” Roberts said. “Obviously, there’s a push to do something right now. … It’s not that we’re just sitting on our hands. The guys are working hard to better our club. But we don’t believe we have to force something. There’s plenty of time between now and Opening Day, and I think that it’s been kind of proven that just because you win the offseason doesn’t mean you win the postseason. There’s really no correlation. Again, I like our core, and there’s definitely some work to be done that I’m sure the guys are prepared to do.”