RENO — New Reno Aces skipper Jerry Narron showed up for his introductory press conference wearing a bright green sportscoat with aces all over it.
“I was looking for an ugly Christmas sweater,” he said. “You see them online. I saw the jacket with all the aces on it, and I had to have it.
“I’m buying in. I’m all in with the Aces. That’s what I expect from the players when they are here.
“I had the opportunity to do other things this year, but when this opportunity presented itself, I liked the idea of coming back (to the minors). I was nowhere ready to retire. I love the game. Baseball is baseball. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at.”
Another reason Narron took the job was the scouting report on the city itself.
“People in baseball talk, and Reno has a great reputation as a baseball city,” Narron said. “Everybody talks about the great fans; the ballpark. It’s a beautiful park. I heard it’s a hitter’s park. Everybody likes action.”
Narron is the third Reno Aces manager in team history, following in the footsteps of Brett Butler and Phil Nevin, both of whom left Reno for jobs in the majors after their tenures in Reno.
Nevin became the San Francisco Giants’ new third-base coach this year, joining Bruce Bochy’s staff, while Butler has since retired.
Narron, 60, played eight years in the majors as a catcher with the Yankees, Mariners and Angels. He was a .239 hitter. He has been a Major League manager twice. He managed the Texas Rangers in 2001-02 and the Cincinnati Reds from 2005-07. His record was 291-341. He was Boston’s bench coach during its run to the ALCS in 2003, and he was the Brewers’ bench coach from 2011-15.
Needless to say, Narron brings a wealth of experience to the job. He likes developing talent, and that’s essentially what Triple-A managers do. Winning is important, but Narron’s main job is to get the players ready for the Diamondbacks.
“I have a heart for player development,” Narron said. “Crazy as it may sound, I’ve been stuck in the big leagues since 1993. I enjoy working with young players. I enjoy the idea of guys fulfilling their dreams. I like the idea of being a dream catcher.
“When you manage in triple-A, you are dealing with top prospects, guys who got sent down and guys at the end of their careers. I’ve dealt with all three.”
Narron, who was drafted in the sixth round by the Yankees, ended his career in Triple-A.
If you look closely, many former catchers have had the most success managing — Bruce Bochy of the Giants, Joe Torre with the Yankees, Mike Matheny with St. Louis, Joe Girardi of the Yankees, Mike Scioscia of the Angels and Ned Yost of the Brewers to name a few.
Narron was asked the secret to the success of former catchers becoming managers.
“You have to know a little bit about pitching,” he said. “A big part of this game is pitching, and you better be able to help the pitcher. As a catcher, the primary job is to help the pitcher be as good as he can be before their offense. We have a couple of catchers in the organization that have a chance to be big league catchers, and I’m looking forward to working with them.”
Narron concluded by saying the catchers, after all, are the smartest guys on the team.