Wichita Wingnuts

Wingnuts’ Rose remains loyal to players, who reward him with wins

Wingnuts second baseman Christian Stringer takes a throw as a Lincoln player tries to steal a base last summer. Stringer has been a part of the Wingnuts’ steady roster for two seasons under manager Pete Rose Jr.
Wingnuts second baseman Christian Stringer takes a throw as a Lincoln player tries to steal a base last summer. Stringer has been a part of the Wingnuts’ steady roster for two seasons under manager Pete Rose Jr. Wichita Eagle

There have been exactly 113 transactions in the American Association since the start of business on June 15, and the Wingnuts have been involved in one of them – basically against their will.

Wichita has made two moves this season, and both have been to address injuries. Every position player except backup catcher Zac Fisher was with the team last year, so manager Pete Rose Jr. has spent his two seasons working with the status quo.

Rose runs the Wingnuts like a major-league team, giving players a chance to work through slumps and feeling reticent to change when the team is playing well. Wichita (35-14) leads the South Division by 11 1/2 games as it begins a six-game homestand on Tuesday against Gary SouthShore.

“You have to go and let them be great,” Rose said. “You can’t worry about mistakes, you can’t worry about if a guy goes 0 for 4. They’ve got to know it’s OK to go out and fail. This game, we know how tough it is. If you have a good clubhouse and have guys who want to be in the clubhouse, it relates to stuff on the field.”

Rose’s philosophy is opposed to that of former manager Kevin Hooper, who was never shy about adjusting on the fly. The Wingnuts under Hooper made frequent moves when players were underperforming and were constantly searching for better options.

Both strategies have worked – Hooper made the postseason in six of his seven seasons and Rose is on the way to leading the Wingnuts back to the playoffs after they lost in last year’s championship series.

Players spoke highly of the laid-back atmosphere Hooper fostered and Rose’s charges are similarly fond of his loyalty.

“He always wants to keep the clubhouse loose,” Wingnuts second baseman Christian Stringer said. “He doesn’t want to get in the way. If you’re having problems and you want to come and ask him for help, he’s always there to help.

“…He just likes to let us do whatever we want to do. All he cares about is show up on time and play hard. As long as we’re playing our best between the lines, he’s good with whatever we want to do to stay loose or have fun or keep or focus mentally.”

The only player the Wingnuts have added this season – the other transaction was activating a pitcher from the disabled list – is Garrett Gould, who pitched for the Wingnuts last year.

Rose’s loyalty extends beyond Wichita – Stringer is one of multiple players Rose has brought to Wichita after managing them in the Chicago White Sox organization.

American Association teams have released more than 75 players since the beginning of the season, but the Wingnuts haven’t released any.

“To have the group of guys that I get to come to work with every day, it makes my job easier,” Rose said. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I want to manage in the big leagues, but if I managed in the big leagues I’d take all these guys with me.”

Chavez player of the week – Wingnuts first baseman Mat tChavez was chosen American Association player of the week on Monday. Chavez went 14 for 26 with five home runs and 14 RBIs as Wingnuts won four of six games last week. Chavez, 29, is second in the league in batting (.387), tied for the lead in homers (14) and leads the league in RBIs (60).

  Comments