The one-two punch of surprise landed today as the Rockies announced that Dante Bichette accepted the offer to become the Rockies hitting coach. Many thought it would be Jason Giambi, who seemed to be the front-runner after just missing out on the Manager position to Weiss. Giambi withdrew his name from consideration, stating that it wasn’t a fit at the current time. In a phone interview with Troy Renck, he gave his feelings about stepping down:
I really thought about it and if Walt had gotten more than a year on his contract maybe it would have been different. But I felt that he needed to get a foothold and have total focus and commitment from the guys. He really deserves it. If the team doesn’t start out the way they want, and I am in the background looming, it could be a PR nightmare. I am not that kind of human being. I want Walt and the Rockies to do well and get things turned around.
He went on to say that he wasn’t sure what he will do next, but knew he didn’t want to be a distraction, or worse, the guy that the players might lean on if things weren’t going the way they were expected.
As far as Bichette, he seemed to be out of the running after telling the Post that he wasn’t ready for the job. Apparently the pickup of Weiss as manager helped him rethink that position and eventually become the next hitting coach. Weiss called Bichette and asked him if he would rethink the idea. Weiss absolutely wanted Bichette on his staff and made that very clear to the Post:
We felt Dante was a top-notch hitting guy. And once he showed renewed interest, we went after him full-bore. He was the best I ever played with when it came to driving in runs. He always had a terrific two-strike approach, and he was very, very good with runners in scoring position.
Two-strike approaches and hitting with runners in scoring position are situations the team has struggled with under previous management.