INDIAN WELLS, calif. — Following a month-long search, the Rockies named Walt Weiss their sixth manager Wednesday night. Weiss received a one-year deal, a challenge he embraces.
"It has moved fast and it's a great opportunity," Weiss told The Denver Post. "It's who I am, having lived in this city, and played for this organization. It's been part of my identity the last 20 years. I am not motivated by the terms of contract. I am just focused on the job."
The Rockies' brass met for several hours Wednesday night before choosing Weiss over finalist Matt Williams and Jason Giambi and Tom Runnells.
Weiss, 48, was the head baseball coach at Regis Jesuit High School last season, leading the Raiders to the Class5A semifinals. His son, Brody, is a senior there.
Weiss, known as a terrific fielder who provided a heady on-field presence, played 14 major-league seasons with Oakland, Florida, Colorado and Atlanta. The shortstop won American League rookie of the year honors with the Athletics.
He helped lead the A's, Rockies and Braves to the playoffs. His 1989 A's team won the World Series, beating the San Francisco Giants. In 1999, Weiss helped the Braves make the World Series, where they lost to the New York Yankees.
"I am trying to get my head around this and over the past few weeks I have come to grips with it. There are going to be things that I won't foresee that will be part of the job. I will figure things out," Weiss said. "And I will lean on guys around me and get help with the logistics about that part of the job."
The Rockies signed Weiss in 1994 to stabilize the shortstop position and bring a veteran presence to the clubhouse. He has been around the organization ever since.
"He fell into our lap and was everything we expected and more," said former Rockies GM Bob Gebhard. "He was a leader in every way."
Weiss wasn't looking for a new job when the Rockies called nearly a month ago.
The casual conversations quickly turned serious and Weiss, after discussing the matter with his family, pursued the job aggressively. He hasn't coached in professional baseball, though he worked as a minor-league instructor and scout for the Rockies.
In a copycat league where the White Sox's Robin Ventura and the Cardinals' Mike Matheny became managers without résumés, several executives predicted Weiss could make a successful transition.
"I don't think anything would overwhelm him," said Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto.
There's some concern that Weiss might be too quiet and reserved. He's not a yeller and screamer, his competitive streak more of a steady burning fire.
"I would put Walt up there with (Joe) Girardi as the two guys I played with that had the most respect on the field because of how they carried themselves and how they played the game," said former Rockies star Dante Bichette. "Obviously leading a team is different, but they sure handled themselves well."
Girardi, an erstwhile Rockie, won NL manager of the year honors with the Marlins and led the Yankees to a World Series crown in 2009. Weiss was a hard-nosed player who developed a love for teaching the game with patience. That could be an asset for a team breaking in several young pitchers and position-player prospects. Weiss would also benefit having, if not require, a veteran pitching coach.
Geivett indicated that no staff decisions would be made until a manager is in place.
Bob McClure, the Rockies' former Triple-A pitching guru before working with the Red Sox and Royals, is a potential candidate for the pitching coach job. Weiss expects the staff to come from in-house candidates.
"I look forward to this opportunity," Weiss said. "I can't wait to get going."