FORT WAYNE – Michael Collins, who was named the TinCaps new manager Jan. 14, is only 29. He believes that will give him great insight into the minds of his players at the Single-A level.
In regards to relating with players, I guess Im not far removed from playing with a quick transition into coaching, so Im closer in age than other coaches and spending 10 years all in the minors, I understand what these players are going through, he wrote in an email from Australia, where he manages the Canberra Cavalry in the winter.
He is a native of Canberra and has led the Cavalry to a title.
Jose Valentin, who managed the TinCaps the last two seasons, was elevated Nov. 19 to first base coach of the Padres. Valentin was 149-144, accumulating the third most victories in the TinCaps 21-year history, behind only Doug Dascenzo and Randy Ready.
Valentin took the TinCaps to two playoff appearances; they lost in the Midwest Leagues championship series in 2012.
Collins played 10 years in the minor leagues as a catcher between 2001 and 2010 for affiliates of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Padres. He played in the Midwest League in 2004 and 2005 for Cedar Rapids and reached the Triple-A level with Portland in 2009 and 2010.
He coached the Padres Dominican Summer League affiliate in 2012 and the Padres rookie-level affiliate in the Arizona League last year.
Having played in the Midwest League, he is excited to get back to the area.
First of all, Im very excited for the opportunity to manage the TinCaps, he wrote. Ive heard nothing but great things about the city, stadium and everyone involved with the team. After playing in the Midwest league in 2004 and 2005 (for Cedar Rapids), I have great memories and it will be fun to revisit these cities, maybe with a little different view as a manager than a player I guess.
The rest of the TinCaps coaching staff will be familiar; returning are pitching coach Burt Hooton, hitting coach Morgan Burkhart and athletic trainer Ricky Huerta.
Dan Byrne is the new strength and conditioning coach.
Collins could be different than the fiery Valentin, though only time will tell.
My managing style, Collins wrote, (is) I like to let the players play. Try to line them up in the best position to succeed and let them be aggressive. Early days right now, but there are a lot of great young players in the organization, should be a good mix of young talent.
Collins experiences in Australia could give him different perspective, too, and the pressure to succeed in each and every game has become happenstance.
Managing in Australia has been a great experience, he wrote. It has provided me with opportunities to try different things and learn from successes as well as failures. This is a short season only playing four games over weekends, so every game is on the line.