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DENVER -- Walt Weiss is making the rare jump from the high school dugout to the big leagues.
The Colorado Rockies hired the former major league shortstop Wednesday night to replace manager Jim Tracy, who resigned Oct. 7 with one year and $1.4 million left on his contract rather than return to a club where its assistant general manager had moved into an office in the clubhouse.
The 1988 American League Rookie of the Year with Oakland, Weiss played shortstop for the Rockies from 1994 to '97 and was a special assistant to general manager Dan O'Dowd from 2002 to '08.
He left to spend more time with his family, and last season coached Regis Jesuit High School outside Denver, in Aurora, to a 20-6 record and the 5A semifinals of the state championship. Weiss' son, Brody, is in his senior year at the school.
"It has moved fast, and it's a great opportunity," Weiss told The Denver Post. "It's who I am, having lived in this city and played for this organization. It's been part of my identity the last 20 years. I am not motivated by the terms of contract. I am just focused on the job."
The Rockies made the announcement after owner Dick Monfort and top officials deliberated at the general managers meetings in Indian Wells, Calif. -- held at a hotel Monfort owns.
A team spokesman said Weiss would be introduced at a news conference Friday at Coors Field.
"It was a lot of different things," O'Dowd said before suggesting senior vice president of major league operations Bill Geivett speak about Weiss' hiring. Geivett didn't immediately return phone messages.
|Walt Weiss, a former player and special assistant for the Rockies, will return to the team, this time as the sixth manager in franchise history.|
Weiss and Arizona coach Matt Williams were the finalists to replace Tracy, who quit following the worst season in franchise history. Rockies bench coach Tom Runnells and first baseman Jason Giambi also interviewed, with Giambi saying he would retire as a player if he got the job.
Weiss, 48, spent parts of 14 seasons in the major leagues, also playing for Oakland (1987-92), Florida (1993) and Atlanta (1998-2000). A .258 career hitter, he was an All-Star in the 1998 game at Denver's Coors Field.
"I am trying to get my head around this and over the past few weeks I have come to grips with it. There are going to be things that I won't foresee that will be part of the job. I will figure things out," Weiss told The Denver Post. "And I will lean on guys around me and get help with the logistics about that part of the job."
Colorado had more familiarity with Weiss than with Williams.
"He would take trips in the minor leagues. He was always around with the major league club at home, as well," Geivett said earlier Wednesday. "I know Walt pretty well."
Williams, a five-time All-Star third baseman, has been Arizona's third-base coach the past two seasons after a year coaching first base. Before that, he was a Diamondbacks broadcaster for five years.
"I played against him in college when he was at UNLV," Geivett said. "No real personal contact."
Weiss is just the sixth manager for the Rockies, following Don Baylor (1993-98), Jim Leyland (1999), Buddy Bell (2000-02), Clint Hurdle (2002-09) and Tracy (2009-12).
Colorado went 64-98 last season under Tracy, who was promoted from bench coach to manager in May 2009 and was voted the National League manager of the year after guiding Colorado into the playoffs that season.
The Rockies started strong in 2010 but faded at the finish and ended up going 294-308 under Tracy, who also had worked with Geivett in Montreal and Los Angeles.
Energized by the young players and the challenge of fixing things, Tracy said repeatedly toward the end of this past season that he wanted to fulfill the final year on his contract in 2013. But he changed his mind after meeting with Geivett following the team's last-place finish in the NL West.
Things changed dramatically for Tracy on Aug. 1 when Geivett, the assistant general manager, was given an office in the clubhouse and began focusing on roster management, particularly as it related to the pitchers, and evaluating the coaching staff and the rest of the players. Tracy's responsibilities were narrowed to game management and meeting with the media.
"I thought we worked together fine," Geivett said after Tracy's surprise resignation last month.
Geivett had said that structure will remain in place next season but that he didn't think it would be an issue in his search for a new manager.
In addition to altering their front office, with O'Dowd focusing his attention on the minor leagues and player development, the Rockies last summer reacted to Coors Field playing like its pre-humidor days by adopting a radical four-man rotation and a 75-pitch limit with several designated piggyback relievers, a much-derided experiment that lasted two months.
Geivett has said the Rockies will return to a traditional five-man rotation next season with pitch limits determined on a case-by-case basis.
Tracy was given an indefinite contract extension last spring, but it guaranteed only his 2013 salary of $1.4 million as field manager and really just represented the club's desire to keep him in the organization in some capacity.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.