Courtesy of SA Missions
Wearing a Missions practice shirt and shorts, new Manager Rich Dauer seemed right at home in Wolff Stadium, throwing baseballs to his players during batting practice. Beginning his first season with San Antonio, Dauer brings an extensive baseball resume with winning experience, yet he believes there are more important lessons to be learned about life in the game of baseball.
“My main message, I mean If I had a message, I would really hope the players that I have an opportunity to oversee not only become better players but better people,” Dauer said during a media session inside the Missions dugout. “That you can come to the ballpark and not have your best stuff but make a difference in other people’s lives that you run across, the people in the stands, the people that go out of their way to help you.”
Dauer spent the previous seven seasons with the Colorado Rockies before being offered the Missions manger position by the San Diego Padres. He brings 26 years of professional baseball knowledge both as a player and a coach.
The timing of Dauer’s arrival might be what the Missions organization needs following a 60 win season and a dead last finish in the Texas League South Division. The Missions also said goodbye to manager John Gibbons, who is now the Toronto Blue Jays manager.
This season, the Missions have expectations to get back to winning and boasts a promising pitching staff led by ace right-hander Donn Roach (11-2, 1.88 ERA). According to the Padres website, Roach is currently in their top 15 ranked prospects, as he has developed into an effective sinkerball pitcher.
“I’ve always grown up being told that pitching and defense is the key to winning,” said Roach, who recently pitched 2 2/3 innings in the Alamodome for the Padres against the Rangers.
Returning to the Missions is catcher Eddy Rodriguez, who was part of the 2011 Texas League championship team. Rodriguez has seen firsthand what type of pitchers will be on display for San Antonio.
“We got an unbelievable pitching staff,” Rodriguez said. “I think we are going to be a team that’s based around pitching and defense, and if that holds true, everyone has always heard it, pitching and defense wins championships.”
The Missions staff also includes Josh Geer (7-10, 104 Ks) who started 20 games for San Antonio in 2012; Kevin Quackenbush (3-2, 0.94 ERA) who collected 27 saves in Single-A Lake Elsinore, and Tyler, Texas native Burch Smith (9-6, 3.85 ERA).
While Wolff Stadium has not always been considered a hitters’ ballpark, the Missions will look to use their speed to score.
“With my speed and Dauer’s way of thinking of how to score each time on a base hit to center or right, he’s going to wave us in,” said outfielder Reymond Fuentes. Fuentes tallied 35 steals last season in 136 games with San Antonio.
With much to be figured out, Dauer is bringing a hardworking mentality to the Missions.
“Hustle is one of those things that’s been lost in baseball, and I think that Richie [Dauer] is going to put that back into this team,” said Rodriguez.