Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 11/18/11
ST. LOUIS Ron Roenicke knows what awaits Mike Matheny in the former catcher's rookie year as St. Louis Cardinals manager, and a learning curve will last well beyond the first season.. Roenicke felt prepared for his first stint as a major-league skipper because of a background coaching in the minor leagues. By the time the Milwaukee Brewers hired him last November, Roenicke's preparation gave him confidence that he could succeed. But Roenicke knows Matheny will face a different situation next spring. Matheny, 41, was hired Monday without previous major-league coaching or managerial experience to replace Tony La Russa. Some call the Cardinals' move risky, but Roenicke has seen knowledge gained in other ways. "I think all the things you do in this game help you prepare to be a manager," said Roenicke, who led the Brewers to the National League Central title last season. "You can do that through scouting, through minor-league development, through an executive being someone's assistant to help out. I think all that prepares you for things that come up." Matheny will try to draw on experience gained from his playing career to ease his acclimation next season. To Cardinals officials, he represents a face of the future as well as a link to the past. Roenicke's division championship last season shows rookie managers can produce results right away, and Matheny will try to achieve a similar feat in 2012. Such an accomplishment might be possible, but Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak spoke Monday about valuing patience. He said beginning a job requires learning new skills, and he anticipates Matheny growing into the role. "Anytime you step into a new job, you are always learning," Mozeliak said. "Every time you think about the experiences that long-term managers have they always have something to revert back to. He's going to have to utilize his playing days and use that as his base for experience." Those playing days are worth learning from. Matheny spent 13 seasons in the major leagues, including five in St. Louis from 2000 to 2004. He won three of his four Gold Gloves with the Cardinals. Still, Roenicke sees positives from taking a traditional path through the minor leagues. There, he matured in his decision-making as a leader. The scenario prepared him for life in the majors. "I think it's a definite plus," Roenicke said in a telephone interview. "You learn to do things and see what you like and don't like. You're able to try things that you have formulated these opinions on. Sometimes you like what you're thinking. Other times you're thinking that's not the right way to do things. The minor-league part really helped me prepare for what I am doing now. It would be hard for me to me to say that I would be a good manager if I didn't have that experience managing in the minor leagues." Yet, Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. trusts Matheny's youth will give him the energy to learn. DeWitt said each manager has a base of knowledge developed through playing or coaching lessons. To DeWitt, Matheny has a similar perspective. "He's going to have to utilize his playing days and use that as his base for experience," DeWitt said. Matheny has some post-retirement experience with the Cardinals. Recently, he had served as a special assistant in player development and as an instructor during spring training. But soon, Matheny will lead with much more responsibility. Roenicke's advice for a first-year manager is to prepare and always look for chances to learn. Next spring, Matheny will have many opportunities to do so.
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