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"This Year We're Going To Hustle!": Bears Manager Chris Jones Speaks With Newark Bears News
Newark Bears News spoke with Chris on February 8, 2005.
Chris Jones, new field manager of the Bears, spoke this evening with Newark Bears News. We asked him about his philosophy of managing. Chris told us, if major league players can practice their craft every day, then independent league players ought to do the same. "Let's do it right, and keep doing it right," he said. There won't be any more rules than last year, just more diligence about getting down to the basics.
Chris has learned a lot from the major league players he's played with and against, and his goal is to help each player become better while contributing to the team. "Talent is not enough," said Chris. "Everyone in the [Atlantic] League has talent." What's needed in addition is a positive, winning attitude. "Attitude is fine," he says, "as long as it's an attitude that makes you a better player and makes those around you better players, too."
We asked Chris if he's spoken with Jeff Ball, who last year made a successful transition from player to manager [of the Atlantic City Surf]. "I haven't spoken with him," said Chris, "but I played with him. He's a hard-nosed player [with a genuine work ethic]," and it didn't surprise Chris at all that Jeff had such a good year.
We asked Chris to comment on the players who have been signed so far:
On Jerson Perez: "Our MVP last year, and with a tweak to his fielding, he could be the [Atlantic] League's MVP this year."
On Steve Crampton: "If he starts off this year like he finished last year, he won't be around too long," because affiliated ball will pick him right up.
On Melvin Falu: "He made contact, and he hustled on every play. When Henry [Cruz, Coach and Director of Player Personnel] said we could get Falu, I said let's do it!"
On Jose Olmeda: "Caught well, just needs to be a little tamer at the plate." Chris said he hears that Jose is taking yoga in Puerto Rico to improve his flexibility.
On Mike Piercy: "Could click this year if he stays healthy; has the mental make-up to be a winner. He needs to make more contact and use the whole field."
On Jason Dewey: "Our commander-in-chief. We're going to hold him accountable for a lot...he will help our [hurlers] make better pitch selections."
On Elvis Corporan: "Don't know him too well yet. He's one of Henry's picks."
On Jake Brooks: "He's said to have a good arm and great velocity."
On Abraham Ayala: "Best hitting stats for a catcher in the [Atlantic] League last year."
Other players the Bears skipper has his eye on are: Joe Gannon, Keith Maxwell, Brian Billingsley, Joe Strong, Travis Wade, and Jack Joffrion. Chris said that Jack Santora would be the team's "number one draft pick," but he was just signed by the Astros organization.
When we asked Chris what he's looking for this spring and what we can expect overall from the Bears this season, he said, "I wish we had three weeks of spring training instead of just 12 days….But one thing I can tell you for sure, this year we're going to hustle!"
Newark Bears News thanks Mr. Jones for giving us his time for this interview.
Reprints of this interview are available from Newark Bears News. Click here to request one.