It’s official: Ron Roenicke is the next Milwaukee Brewers field manager.
The Brewers made the announcement Thursday morning and planned to introduce Roenicke, 54, at a 1:30 p.m. CT press conference at Miller Park. Club officials confirmed he was the choice two days earlier, but held off the formal announcement while some final administrative steps were completed and Roenicke traveled to Milwaukee.
Roenicke got a two-year contract with a club option for 2013.
The former outfielder played 527 games over eight Major League seasons for six different teams, but has made his Major League mark mostly as a coach under Angels manager Mike Scioscia. Roenicke joined Scioscia’s staff in 2000 as the third base coach, and was promoted to bench coach for 2006 after the Rays hired away Joe Maddon.
Roenicke is the third member of Scioscia’s original staff to be handed a team of his own. Maddon has managed the Rays since 2006, and former Angels pitching coach Bud Black has managed the Padres since 2007.
Roenicke has not managed in the Major Leagues, but he did manage 643 games in the Minors before joining the Angels’ coaching staff.
He came highly recommended to Brewers officials by a number of current and former colleagues, including former Angels GM Bill Stoneman and Maddon, who lauded Roenicke’s ability to see things that others miss.
When they were together on the Angels staff, “He was always looking for the advantage, and I was doing the same thing,” Maddon said. “Believe me, you’re getting a really bright baseball person, and one of the most honest people I’ve met in my life. That’s a real good thing when talking to Major League players. He’s going to talk to those guys straight-up.”
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, assistant GM Gord Ash and special assistant Dan O’Brien all called around for input on the various candidates, and were impressed by Roenicke as a family man and a baseball man with a record of working well with diverse personalities.
Melvin entered the offseason leaning toward choosing a manager with previous managerial experience, and ended up with two such finalists in Bob Melvin and Bobby Valentine. But Roenicke and White Sox bench coach Joey Cora were especially impressive in their interviews. As the search continued, Roenicke rose to the top.
“The more people they talked to, the more he stepped up,” said a source with knowledge of the Brewers’ search. “You kept hearing from people, ‘This guy is ready and has been ready.'”
Roenicke is now getting a chance to prove it. He inherits a Brewers team that won the National League Wild Card in 2008 but posted consecutive sub-.500 seasons under manager Ken Macha, who was let go last month.
Thursday’s announcement was not expected to include any news about Roenicke’s plans for his coaching staff. Hitting coach Dale Sveum is already in place after signing a two-year contract extension during the League Championship Series. Pitching coach Rick Peterson has one year left on his contract, but Roenicke may have some say in whether Peterson remains in that position.
Roenicke is the 18th manager in Brewers history and, when he manages the club’s March 31, 2011 season-opener in Cincinnati, will be the club’s sixth skipper in the span of 10 seasons. That list also includes Davey Lopes, Jerry Royster (the interim manager for most of 2002), Ned Yost, Sveum (who managed the final 12 regular season games and four playoff games in ’08) and Macha.
“Ron brings to the Brewers the skill set needed to maintain high standards of professional excellence and success,” Doug Melvin said in a statement. “I am extremely confident that he will develop an organizational culture that fosters teamwork. Ron projects self confidence, authority and enthusiasm, which will inspire performance. He is a true professional with an extensive background as a player, manager, third-base coach and bench coach. I was very impressed with the number of positive endorsements we received on his behalf.”
Roenicke resides in Chino Hills, Calif. with his wife, Karen. The couple has a son named Lance, who is an outfielder at UC-Santa Barbara. Born in Covina, Calif., Roenicke attended Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif. from 1975-76 before transferring to UCLA in 1977.
His brother, Gary, also played in the Major Leagues and his nephew, Josh, pitches for the Blue Jays.