Position players were due to report to camp by Wednesday, the 24th. Manager Andy Green was ready. In a speech given to the entire spring training roster and coaching staff, Green laid out his expectations and his vision for the team and the organization. While he may be one of the youngest managers in the game, he knows how to command an audience and articulate his thoughts in an impressionable manner.
"For me, it was about them taking ownership of this club and understanding it's a player's game and it's always been a player's game. If we're going to be great, they've got to rise up and lead and they have to stand up in places they haven't in the past. The bar is being raised. ... This is how we're raising it."
- Manager Andy Green
I'm sure each new season starts with a "rah-rah" speech to the team. I'm certain each new manager wants to establish a tone and a culture as quickly as he can. Judging by the responses coming from the players, Green's message was delivered in a manner that none had seen before. Skip Schumaker, a non-roster invitee, has played for Tony LaRussa, Mike Matheny, and Don Mattingly. Wil Myers played under Joe Maddon. They should know something about strong leaders and new managers trying to make an impression.
"I have been through a couple new manager speeches. I'm not going to compare what theirs were to Andy's, but I will say that that was one of the more inspiring speeches I've been a part of. You can ask the big-name guys. He hit home from the rookie to the veteran, and if you weren't excited about getting started with Spring Training and the new culture he's bringing, you don't have a pulse.""He doesn't sugarcoat anything. What he says, he means. For a player, that's huge. In this game, you get a lot of fluff in upper management and people telling you things you want to hear. He's the opposite of that. He's going to tell you what he thinks and what he feels and what he means. As a player, you want nothing more than that."
"I think everybody was very impressed by his speaking ability. I think everybody came out of there very motivated. ... Every coach kind of says the same types of things, but Andy was very passionate in what he said. I think he had some things that were different than what I had heard in previous spring trainings."
After the speech, it was clear that the message resonated with the players. The word "culture" was on the tip of everone's tongues. As fans, we've grown accustomed to attitudes and approaches that haven't harbored success. That sentiment is being washed away in Peoria. The Padres clubhouse has now been pointed in a new direction that will hopefully bring about changes that will be apparent in the dugout and on the field.
"Andy Green looks at this particular ballclub, and I'm sure he's aware what the Padres have done the past X amount of years, that the fans have kind of dwindled away because maybe we haven't played the right kind of baseball. I think the change of culture is bringing the right fundamental things in and playing the game he right way. Maybe we're not going to be the most talented or highest payroll, but if we do the the little things right and focus on the thing things, we can change the culture and transform this into a winning ball club."
"One of the main things is to create a culture around here, and I don't think that has been created before,"
"I think Andy is on the right track."We're going to do all the little things right, have our mindset in the right positon to be working toward winning. That's the bottom line, changing the culture to change this into a winning organization."
Green demonstrated a familiarity with the organization and the roster, from top to bottom. After travelling around the country to visit his veterans, he has put in extensive work to familiarize himself with the coaching staff that will help him achieve his goals.
"It was something different. Right from the beginning, he knew everybody's name in every department and their title without any sheet of paper. He didn't miss anybody. He knew their title, what they did, how they're going to help us. From the start to finish of that speech, it was incredible. That was the first time in a long time I've been locked in on a speech and didn't waver. You can ask just about anybody. They'd say the same thing." -Skip Schumaker
With the full backing of management, the organization seems poised to move forward as a collective unit. Front office staff and ownership seemed impressed by the tone set by Green.
''I'm more excited this year than last year, frankly, because we're one more year into Preller's reign of building a great organization at all levels. 'There's a lot of work to do, but there are a lot of great, exciting things to come here.'' -Peter Seidler
"What made today special, with what Andy said to the team, was the work he did in the offseason, visiting players, getting to know them, what they think, what they want here. It's going to be a lot of empowerment to the guys in the clubhouse. That's his style, and I think it's tremendous." -Mike Dee
The Padres organization has been mired in mediocrity and underperformance. New ownership has completed their overhaul of the management staff. Now the management staff is starting to overhaul the culture surrounding the players. It's refreshing to hear encouraging words and attitudes as this unit embarks on a new season with optimism and vigor.