Springfield Cardinals: Meet first-year manager Jose Leger
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - For the first time in nearly a year and a half, the Springfield Cardinals return to game action Tuesday at Hammons Field.
With the new season comes a new manager. Jose Leger takes over as the seventh manager in the history of the Springfield Cardinals franchise.
Leger enters his fourth season in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He had previously served as the franchise’s Latin American Field & Academy Development Coordinator. After several years working in the Dominican Republic, he is thrilled for the opportunity to manage.
“It’s a privilege and an honor being here in Springfield,” said Leger during a Zoom session with media members Monday. “I love to manage, I love the energy and the adrenaline you feel when you’re on the baseball field. That’s something I expressed to the Cardinals when I took the job [in the Dominican Republic].”
Leger brings years of experience to the managerial role. He managed at four different minor league levels in the New York Mets organization from 2010-2017, compiling nearly 400 wins. Leger led the Savannah Sand Gnats (Single A) to an 84-53 record in 2015, earning honors as the South Atlantic League Manager.
Coming off a year without Minor League Baseball, Leger says the main focus for his first year in Springfield is the health and development of his players. That could be a larger challenge than years past after Major League Baseball reduced its minor league pool in the offseason by more than one-quarter to 120 teams.
“Everybody is in the same boat. Organizations are pushing their players to play a level above where they’re supposed to be,” said Leger. “But I think the main focus is to develop these guys and hope we get them ready for the next level.”
For that reason, Leger says it will be important to find a balance.
“The one thing we got to keep in mind is that as an organization, there are individual plans with some of these players that kind of take away the things you might want to do if you’re trying to win a ballgame,” said Leger. “It all goes hand-to-hand with the kind of team you have.”
Leger has a similar mindset when it comes to analytics.
“It’s a very good advantage to have,” said Leger. “As a manager, we don’t try to overwhelm players with all this information. We try to keep it simple for them... I do use the numbers, but I also have a balance where I have the sense of knowing what my instincts tell me.”
Leger will have the chance to coach eight of Top 30 St. Louis Cardinals prospects (via MLB.com rankings), including highly-touted prospect Nolan Gorman. The Springfield Cardinals bring back seven players who had previous experience with the franchise.
Monday marks his first organized practice with the team in Springfield since he was announced as the team manager in January. He says many of his players have followed workout routines since spring training and are eager for Tuesday’s home opener.
“They’re more than prepared to play this season,” said Leger. “These guys are going to compete.”
Leger will manage the Springfield Cardinals in 2021 with help from pitching coach Darwin Marrero and hitting coach Tyger Pederson.
- Nolan Gorman, one of the top prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, will start the season playing his natural position of third base. Gorman began practicing at second base in Spring Training after the Cardinals offseason blockbuster for third baseman Nolan Arenado. Lejer says Gorman could possibly see some in-game opportunities at second base after a few weeks: “We’re going to work him out there during practice... Then it’s going to be a decision I make, along with the front office.”
- The Springfield Cardinals will start the season with a rotation of Domingo Robles, Andre Pallante, Connor Thomas, Kyle Leahy and Alvaro Seijas. Robles is expected to start Tuesday’s season opener and the finale in the six-game series with the Wichita Wind Surge on Sunday, per Leger.
- The Springfield Cardinals will carry 28 players to open the 2021 season, three more allowed on rosters than years past. The team will feature 14 position players and 14 pitchers. Many of the pitchers are expected to have innings or pitch count limits for the season, per Leger. For the Opening Day roster CLICK HERE.
- Hammons Field will welcome fans back for the first time since September 2019 on Tuesday. Fans will be asked to follow several pandemic-related precautions, including masking at all times except when actively eating or drinking.
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