The arrow is undeniably pointing up for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the final month of the regular season, and many are giving rookie manager Dave Roberts hid due praise. Roberts has his club leading the National League West by a season-high five games entering play on Friday.
That wouldn’t have been thought possible due to the rash of injuries the Dodgers have sustained. Their starting rotation went through a stretch where it was reduced to Kenta Maeda, an inconsistent Scott Kazmir, and options from the Minors.
Roberts’ bulldog mentality and optimistic attitude from his playing days has influenced his clubhouse.
“The culture that is being created with Doc and our coaching staff where young guys can come up and feel comfortable, allows them to play to the best of their abilities,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said while speaking at the third annual Dodgers All-Access event.
“There are so many things that are positive, and our record is something that’s sort of gratifying in light of everything that’s gone on. But it’s also the lasting part of the culture that’s being built here. I think it’s going to serve us for a long time in our quest to not only win a World Series this year, but sustain that success over a long period of time.”
During Roberts’ introductory press conference, Friedman and Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi raved about their managerial hire. Zaidi threw more praise in Roberts’ direction at the special event.
“To add to that comment about culture, for both Andrew and myself who just moved to L.A. a couple of years ago, it’s very clear L.A. is a town of stars. But at the same time baseball is a blue-collar game,” Zaidi said.
“I think part of the culture Dave has been able to establish is we have great star players but kind of melting that L.A. star environment with the 25 guys that grind it out every night. I think that’s what’s been able to keep us competitive this year.”
When Roberts was hired as the Dodgers’ manager the pressure he faced was clear. Particularly when taking into account it was his first time leading a club. However, no one could have predicted the countless hurdles he’d have to clear.
For as much as Roberts has overcome adversity thrown his way, it hasn’t been without a learning process. “I knew it was going to be a challenge, I knew there was going to be a learning curve. For me, it’s about communication and relationships,” Roberts said.
“I’m a coach and teacher at the core, I love players. That’s one of the things that’s probably been the biggest challenge, understanding that the players are the most important piece of this whole puzzle. As a manager your job description kind of forces you to do other things that kind of pulls you away the thing you love most, and that’s the players. To find that balance has been the biggest challenge.”