Colorado Rockies minors: Our exclusive chat with Hartford’s new manager
By Kevin Henry
Last week, Warren Schaeffer was officially introduced as the new manager for the Colorado Rockies Double-A team, the Hartford Yard Goats. He becomes the third manager in the three years the Yard Goats have existed, taking over for Jerry Weinstein, who will remain with the Rockies organization in another capacity.
The 32-year-old Schaeffer spent the last three seasons managing Colorado’s Class-A affiliate in Asheville, N.C. During his playing days, he reached as high as Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2010 and 2011 but never saw action in the Majors.
I recently had the opportunity for an exclusive interview with Schaeffer about his new role with the Yard Goats and the challenges it presents.
First, congratulations on landing the job in Hartford. What do you see as the challenges and opportunities of managing at Double-A versus last year in Asheville?
I would say the biggest challenge is also the greatest opportunity, and that is the urgency that the Double-A level provides. Players are now one call away from the big leagues, so the work put in has to be extra on-point and fine tuned so that they will be ready at a moment’s notice to make an impact at the big league level. It is a real litmus test to see if you are preparing correctly. I see that as a challenge and an opportunity. Also, the pitcher hitting in National League games will be new to me, but I really look forward to that.
You are continuing a journey rising through the Rockies ranks along with your players who will be promoted. How important is that continuity for them?
I think that continuity can definitely be a good thing. We already know each other. We trust each other already, so that step of the process is out of the way. Now we can just get to work, but people have a tendency to change, so you have to be willing to adjust within that continuity.
Talk about your memories at Double-A Tulsa. What were the formative things you learned at Double-A?
I learned a lot in Double-A as a player. I learned out to take care of my body better in a long season, I learned how to deal with A LOT of failure, I learned how and when to make adjustments, but most of all at Double-A, you start learning what really works in your own routine, offensively and defensively, that gets your mind right for the game.
You have been a Rockies guy throughout your career. How would you describe the organization, as a player and as a manager?
The Rockies organization is so much fun to be a part of. It is clearly a family-first operation. Everyone pulls on the same end of the rope trying to accomplish something great. It is great to work in such a class organization where you feel like you are making a difference.
At your introductory press conference, you talked about the switch to National League rules with Hartford. Do you anticipate it to be more challenging or fun?
The rules changing is going to be a challenge at first just to start thinking that way, but that is really fun for me. Challenges are fun for me.
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What are your initial impressions of the city, stadium and Yard Goats organization?
I had a great first impression of everything that has to do with the Yard Goats. I love the city, and it seems like this city really rallies behind the Goats and supports them at the games. The front office was fantastic, every one of them, and they made my wife and I feel at home immediately. The ballpark is a palace, period. And the biggest takeaway is how much they care about their community and how involved they are in making a difference in the city of Hartford. I can’t wait for the season.
Note: On Tuesday, the Rockies and Yard Goats agreed to extend the Players Development Contract for another two years, meaning Hartford will remain as Colorado’s Double-A team through at least 2020. You can read more about it by clicking here.