As Chili Davis monitored the latest Mets managerial search from afar, the idea of venturing outside the organization only made sense if the team was prepared to hire a proven winner.
“It would have had to be somebody like a Dusty Baker, who had that experience and he was going to come in, understand the system and what we were doing, being able to relate to players, the media and the front office,” Davis, the team’s hitting coach, said Thursday.
Just as intriguing to Davis were two internal possibilities he deemed worthy of the job: Luis Rojas and Hensley Meulens. The Mets selected Rojas — who spent last season as the team’s quality control coach, bringing a sense of continuity to the manager’s office.
Rojas, 38, will be introduced Friday at Citi Field as the Mets’ new manager, just over a week after Carlos Beltran departed, following MLB’s report that named him in the Astros’ illegal sign-stealing scheme.
“I will work tirelessly to help this team win,” Rojas said in a statement. “I believe this team and coaching staff can do special things, and I look forward to working together with everyone to reach our goals.”
Davis recently received a two-year contract to continue as the team’s hitting coach after arriving to the position before last season. Rojas’ opinion was among those he came to value the most as the two spent countless hours reviewing video and discussing scouting reports.
“We talked a lot about the wording and a lot of things that if something needed to be changed we would discuss that and make those changes,” Davis said. “There was a lot of sleepless nights for him, I’m sure, with a family and everything, but he was on top of it. There is no concern on my end about anything being different. As a matter of fact, I think there is more of an understanding to the things we need to do to be successful there as a team, to continue doing.”
Gary DiSarcina (third-base coach), Ricky Bones (bullpen coach), Tom Slater (assistant hitting coach) and Jeremy Accardo (assistant pitching coach) are the other returning members of the staff who worked alongside Rojas last season. Meulens (bench coach), Jeremy Hefner (pitching coach) and Tony DeFrancesco (first-base coach) are the new additions. With Rojas’ promotion, the Mets still need to fill the quality control coach position.
“The staff is there to help him, but he knows the game,” Davis said of Rojas, who spent eight years managing in the Mets’ minor league system. “It’s not like you hired some guy who has never been in that managerial seat before. But he also knows the game, sitting in staff meetings with him and listen to him talk, he knows the game, and he’s a leader, so I am really happy for him.”
Davis recalled Rojas telling him this offseason there is no organization he would rather work for than the Mets.
“He loves the Mets,” Davis said. “He is very loyal to the Mets, and we talked this offseason during the point when I was trying to get my contract done, and he at the time had his contract up and he stated that he doesn’t want to go anywhere. He wanted to stay with the Mets. And for him to get this opportunity I think is great for him and I think he will do a great job at it.”