Rose Jr. putting father's lessons to work in dugout
Son of baseball legend won division title in Pioneer League in 2013
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Managing baseball never will be about Xs and Os for Pete Rose Jr.
Rose Jr. considers himself to be in the people business, and the 44-year-old is beginning his fourth season as part of the White Sox system. His philosophy won't change, even if he someday follows in the footsteps of his legendary father and manages in the big leagues.
This particular business lends itself to a simple but straightforward concept for the Roses on how to succeed: Play hard and be on time.
"Everything else just falls into place," Rose Jr. said about his managerial style during a recent interview with MLB.com.
"There are three types of players: You kick them in the butt, pat them on the butt or leave them alone," Rose Jr. said of a theory his dad learned from Sparky Anderson. "Your job as a manager is to figure out which guy is which. I have a pretty good grasp on that [after] just watching my dad doing it."
Talk to the elder Rose -- who is Major League Baseball's all-time hit king with 4,256 and managed the Reds with no prior experience over parts of 1984 to '89 -- and his son in a close time proximity, and it feels as if it's the same person speaking baseball-wise, give or take 30 years. Rose Jr. learned the game in classrooms his friends could only dream about and from teachers enshrined in Cooperstown.
It was his father who made sure he didn't miss any opportunity, whether it was taught by the Big Red Machine or the 1980 World Series champions in Philadelphia.
"[Pete Jr.] was always kind of a student of the game, and he was always around the clubhouse," Rose told MLB.com during a recent interview from Las Vegas. "[Johnny] Bench, [Joe] Morgan, [Tony] Perez, Sparky, [Ken] Griffey [Sr.], [Mike] Schmidt, [Andre] Dawson, [Gary] Carter.
"I would tell Pete, 'Sit there. Watch this guy.' Watch Mike Schmidt take ground balls at third base. Watch Ozzie Smith at shortstop. Watch Joe Morgan at second. Watch your old man in the batting cage. Watch Dave Winfield throw from right field. Certain people I had a lot respect for, [so] I told Pete to watch [them] and that's the way to play the game."
The younger Rose managed the White Sox Advanced Rookie Bristol team in the Appalachian League in 2011 and '12. He moved to Great Falls in the Pioneer League in 2013 and will take the helm of Class A Kannapolis for 2014.
Development stands as a major portion of the job for Rose Jr. That directive means playing certain guys a certain amount of innings or using certain pitchers in certain situations -- even if it goes against his instincts.
Rose Jr. has a healthy amount of respect for his direct bosses Kirk Champion, Nick Capra and Buddy Bell, who actually played for his father. So he certainly isn't about to challenge authority. But losing just isn't part of his nature at any level.
After all, he is his father's son.
"My dad lets me know how bad I've done," said Rose Jr., with a laugh. "You definitely want to win, but winning is a bonus. When they play the game the right way, winning will take care of itself -- especially if they play for one another."
"One of his faults is he might want to win too much. He wants his players to all make the big leagues, have fun, have good years, go make money. He wants to do things for them," Rose Sr. said. "We're pretty similar. He wants his players to be aggressive, be on time, give effort. Don't come to the ballpark if you don't want to play hard, and waste everyone's time."
Rose Sr. told the story of when his son went to make a pitching change during a particular game and noticed the shortstop was back at his position and sitting on the ground. The younger Rose called him in to the mound and asked if he was tired. When the player didn't know what to say, he asked why he was sitting on the ground. Rose. Jr. told him to act like he was having fun.
When reminded of this story, Rose Jr. pointed out how there's always something new to see -- regardless of how many years he has been in baseball. He teaches his kids pretty much everything at the lower level, trying to always be there. But the reward is having good kids playing for him and coming together to win a division title, as Great Falls did last year.
They played for each other and wanted to win for each other, a trait Rose Jr. remembers from watching his father's great teams.
"Our scouts have done a great job in finding really great kids," Rose Jr. said. "I'm not talking about ballplayers. I'm talking about kids. They understand it doesn't take any baseball talent to play hard. I was taught that you run as hard as you can until they say safe or out.
"Once kids can do that, you don't have any problems. It's great to come to work every day."
Clearly, Rose Jr. had the right person teaching him. But what if that legend who shares his name -- the man known as Charlie Hustle, who was banned from the game amidst allegations that he was gambling on baseball while playing and managing -- ultimately influences his chance at a big league job?
That issue has only minor concern for either man. The Reds legend would someday like to see his son return to Cincinnati and manage his old team, while Rose, Jr. calls his dad "my idol, and I love him to death," adding it's a "travesty" someone who "loves and breathes baseball" and "has so much to offer" is not in the game. There won't be sour grapes from Rose Jr. if it does happen, because there's nothing he could or would change.
"Just keep doing what you are doing," Rose Jr. said. "I know if I'm myself and here for my kids, good things will happen."
"If teams are smart, they would benefit from the name," Rose Sr. said. "He's going to be a tremendous manager because one, he understands people, and two, he understands the game."