Kragthorpe: Colorado Rockies respond well to Walt Weiss
Published: April 22, 2013 09:38AM
Updated: April 23, 2013 05:40PM
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Colorado Rockies manger Walt Weiss looks out from the dugout in the eight inning of an exhibition baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Saturday, March 30, 2013, in Salt Lake City. The Mariners won 4-3. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Even after blowing a ninth-inning lead Sunday, the Colorado Rockies (13-5) are tied for the best record in baseball.

The team’s surprising start after posting a 64-98 record in 2012 is a credit to manager Walt Weiss, the former Rockies shortstop. His hiring was unconventional, considering his lack of any managerial experience.

But so were the choices of the Chicago White Sox (Robin Ventura) and St. Louis Cardinals (Mike Matheny) the previous winter, moves that emboldened the Rockies.

“Would we have still done it? I’d like to say yes,” said Rockies owner Dick Monfort. “But those two guys help you make that decision. You don’t have to get a guy that’s been doing this for 30 years. There’s a lot of smart baseball guys out there.”

The Rockies had won eight straight games overall and were 8-0 at home this season, prior to Sunday’s 5-4 loss to Arizona. Among the highlights was doubleheader sweep of the New York Mets last Tuesday, after Monfort personally led a shoveling effort to clear the snow off the Coors Field playing surface.

Snow aside, Weiss’ familiarity with the unique elements of baseball in Colorado after spending four seasons as a Rockies player in the mid-1990s played into his hiring. During his annual promotional visit to Salt Lake City, coinciding with the Rockies’ exhibition game vs. Seattle at Spring Mobile Ballpark, Monfort recalled how Weiss was “always there” in the middle of rallies and key games as a player.

“So when his name came up, you’ve got a guy who’s tough, he’s a gamer and has played at Coors Field … he understands it,” Monfort said. “I thought he was a perfect fit.”

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt