SURPRISE, Arizona -- While it may seem like an ideal job for baseball loving fans, being a Major League manager is not a bed of roses. Just ask Texas Rangers new manager Chris Woodard, who is debuting as a Major League manager.
Spring training is one of his busiest time of year as more than 180 players report to the Rangers camp. Woodward’s day begins at 5 a.m. when his bedside alarm rings. He makes the hour-long drive from his home in Chandler, Ariz., to the Rangers spring training complex in Surprise. He listens to music and goes over that day’s schedule and game.
Arriving at the facility he heads to the weight room for a thorough workout.
He then meets with coaches and support staff to go over that day’s activities and prepare workout assignments for the players who will soon be arriving at the clubhouse. He then eats a hearty breakfast.
Following breakfast he meets with the team’s medical staff to get an update on the status of injured players. He also meets with baseball operations staff to go over any potential roster moves or changes.
Around 9:15 he meets with the media where he answers numerous questions about the previous game and upcoming games. He feels quite comfortable in addressing the media and appears to enjoy the give and take. The media have come to respect him for his honesty and forthright.
By 9:30 he is out on the field. He tries to go as many practice fields as time allows to talk and greet as many players as possible, especially the rookies, offering encouragement and motivation. Along the way he greets fans and signs autographs.
He returns to his office to catch up on some paper work and return some phone calls.
On this particular day the Rangers have a 2 p.m. game in Scottsdale against the Colorado Rockies, about a 45 minute drive. While the team boards two charter buses, Woodward drives to the game with some of his coaches where they once again talk baseball and the team. He jokes that his coaching staff resembles the United Nations as there are natives from the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Panama, Dominican Republic and, of course, the United States. The only coaches from the 2018 staff are Tony Beasley and Don Wakamatsu.
Following the game, which the Rangers lose in a slugfest 11 –10, Woodward once again meets with the media to answer their questions about the game and some of the players’ performances.
He then returns to the spring training complex to review that game’s box score and get updates on other games or workouts that took place in the facility’s backfields.
The former Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach has learned that one of the toughest part of being a Major League manager is having to inform a player that he is being released or demoted to the minors. He had to that a number of times during spring training. One was particularly difficult when he had tell catcher Adam Moore, a former teammate, that he was being released.
When asked how he prepared for that he pointed out that he experienced being on the receiving end of that conversation. Ironically, it was his bench coach, Don Wakamatsu, who as manager of the Seattle Mariners, informed Woodward that he was being released.
“There is a disappointment,” he said. “I try to tell the players ‘this is not the end of your dreams, it’s a delay’”.
“That’s the toughest thing about being a manager,” Woodward said.
The rookie manager says he still needs to be a husband and father so he uses what little down time he has to stay in touch with his family. His long commute was shortened briefly during spring break when his wife and three children moved into a nearby hotel for a few days. He says that on a good day, when there is not a night game, his day ends around 10 p.m. Still, his phone is always nearby should there be any developments that may affect the club.
The next morning it all begins again as the team prepares for the 2019 season which open on Thursday March 28, when the Rangers play the Chicago Cubs at Glove Life Park in Arlington.
Ozzie Garza, an Arlington based writer, is a frequent contributor to the Fort Worth Weekly