DENVER — Walt Weiss is making the rare jump from the high school dugout to the big leagues.
The Colorado Rockies hired the former major league shortstop Wednesday night to replace manager Jim Tracy, who resigned Oct. 7 with one year and $1.4 million left on his contract rather than return to a club where its assistant general manager had moved into an office in the clubhouse.
He left to spend more time with his family and last season coached Regis Jesuit High School outside Denver, in Aurora, to a 20-6 record and the 5A semifinals of the state championship. Weiss‘ son, Brody, is in his senior year at the school.
The Rockies made the announcement after owner Dick Monfort and top officials deliberated at the general managers’ meetings in Indian Wells, Calif. — held at a hotel Monfort owns, the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa.
“It was a lot of different things,” general manager Dan O'Dowd said before suggesting senior vice president of major league operations Bill Geivett speak about Weiss‘ hiring. Geivett didn’t immediately return phone messages.
Weiss and Arizona coach Matt Williams were the finalists to replace Tracy, who quit following the worst season in franchise history. Rockies bench coach Tom Runnells and first baseman Jason Giambi also interviewed, with Giambi saying he would retire as a player if he got the job.
The 48-year-old Weiss spent parts of 14 seasons in the major leagues, also playing for Oakland (1987-92), Florida (1993) and Atlanta (1998-2000). A .258 career hitter, he was an All-Star in the 1998 game at Denver’s Coors Field.
Williams, a five-time All-Star third baseman, has been Arizona’s third base coach the last two seasons after a year coaching first base. Before that, he was a Diamondbacks’ broadcaster for five years.
“I played against him in college when he was at UNLV,” Geivett said. “No real personal contact.”
Colorado went 64-98 last season under Tracy, who was promoted from bench coach to manager in May 2009 and was voted the NL Manager of the Year after guiding Colorado into the playoffs that season.
Energized by the young players and the challenge of fixing things, Tracy said repeatedly toward the end of last season that he wanted to fulfill the final year on his contract in 2013. But he changed his mind after meeting with Geivett following the team’s last-place finish in the NL West.
Things changed dramatically for Tracy on Aug. 1 when Geivett, the assistant general manager, was given an office in the clubhouse and began focusing on roster management, particularly as it related to the pitchers, and evaluating the coaching staff and the rest of the players. Tracy’s responsibilities were narrowed to game management and meeting with the media.
Geivett had said that structure will remain in place next season but he didn’t think that would be an issue in his search for a new manager.
In addition to altering their front office, with O'Dowd focusing his attention on the minor leagues and player development, the Rockies last summer reacted to Coors Field playing like its pre-humidor days by adopting a radical four-man rotation and a 75-pitch limit with several designated piggyback relievers, a much-derided experiment that lasted two months.
Tracy was given an indefinite contract extension last spring but it guaranteed only his 2013 salary of $1.4 million as field manager and really just represented the club’s desire to keep him in the organization in some capacity.
AP Sports Writers Ronald Blum, in Indian Wells, Calif., and Pat Graham contributed.
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