Audo Vicente has yet to manage his first minor league baseball game for the Missoula Osprey but he's already making himself at home - both in this country and with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.
Vicente comes to the Garden City after coaching in the Dominican Summer League in Boca Chica for the past decade. He spent the first part of the year honing his skills at extended spring training in Arizona.
The Osprey open their season Tuesday at home with Billings. Vicente says he misses his favorite dishes from home, but is excited to coach in the States for the first time in his career.
The 31-year-old former infielder is bringing his wife, Leslie, and their 1-year-old daughter, Monica, to Missoula this summer to help with the transition.
"It's going to be a good time," says Vicente to the fans in Missoula. "I promise, they'll enjoy the team this year."
Q. What's extended spring training been like?
A. We have a pretty good group. They (the players) have come in ready for this year. We have a lot of Dominican guys that are back from last year. They are hungry to play; really excited and ready for the season.
Q. Who is an up-and-comer in the D-backs' system?
A. Reynaldo Navarro. He was there last year for his first year of pro baseball. He was a good player for us in spring training, the MVP in extended spring training. He's one of the guys making tremendous progress.
Q. What sort of things did you learn at extended spring?
A. The Diamondbacks' style here is … run the bases hard, try to get hits for bases, take advantage of when the other team makes mistakes. And more importantly for us is to have "C in the Z," and that's control in the zone. C to the Z. We've been preaching hitting, but we are also preaching to the pitchers to control the hitter. We've been working a lot on that.
Q. What can you tell us about your time managing in the Dominican Summer League?
A. Ahh, a very special time of my life, with the young guys down there. They came from everywhere - Nicaragua, Venezuela, Mexico, Panama; all the Latin guys. And it's the same here. When you see a guy like Miguel Montero, see them on TV, that makes me really happy. Guys like Gerardo Parra, Javier Brito, Emilio Bonifacio. You know you spent a lot of time with those guys when they signed and played in the Dominican, then two, three years later you see this guy turn out to be a major leaguer. That is why we are here, to prepare guys to play up there.
Q. You have been compared to former O's manager Hector De La Cruz. Is that a good or bad thing?
A. Hector is one of those guys that when I came to the Diamondbacks organization I had a conversation with him. He has a lot of experience in baseball, and some good ideas. I'm going to take some of those good ideas and take them with me. Hector is one of the guys who helped me out a lot. The other is (Arizona's Latin America scouting coordinator) Junior Noboa. Hector and Jack Howell, I want to say thank you to those guys.
Q. How are you getting along with your pitching coach Steve Merriman and hitting coach Alan Zinter.
A. Me and Steven and Alan, we have good teamwork. One guy doesn't do it by himself. I'm 100 percent sure that the coaching staff around me is on the same page. That's what we'll do. So if there's an idea on the table, we'll talk about it. I'll say, 'What do you think about this guy?' and they'll say something, and … we move on. It's teamwork. We have pretty good teamwork. If you look at a pretty good manager in baseball, they have people around them to give them help. And that's what I have, too.
Q. What have you heard about Missoula?
A. I've heard a lot of good things. (Mel) Stottlemyre and Steven have said it's a great town. People support baseball there. They talk about how many people come to the stadium whether the team is winning or not, it doesn't matter. I've been trying to get some information on trying to get an apartment there. I've been sending a lot of e-mails, and checking the newspapers. All what I hear about Missoula is pretty good. I don't know any people there, but I hear good things.
Q. Does being a young manager help you relate to your players better?
A. It doesn't matter if you are 21, 22, 23, in my mind if you have some clear goals in your life, it shouldn't matter. To me it's really important how you look at it and what your actions say.
Q. When and why did you stop playing baseball?
A. I stopped in 1999 in January and within a couple days they offered me the job I have now. That's what I really wanted to do. I spent 4-5 years playing, but I wanted to be on the field. My goal was to play minor league baseball, but I didn't get it, and that's OK. I feel like I'm a player, more or less. You put something in to help get those guys better to play up there.