GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With a practice run already in the books, new Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts got a second chance to address his club in a span of a week.
Roberts initially address the Dodgers’ pitchers and catchers on Friday, with a version of the same speech told again Thursday as all of the team’s position players were present.
Just as he has been saying since being named the Dodgers manager in November, the theme of his speech was about the unbreakable bond he is asking his team to carry.
“It’s been about reinforcing that,” Roberts said shortly after addressing the team and right before Thursday’s workout. “At the major league level players work hard. They work hard in the weight room and they work hard on the field. With a long season, there are ups and downs and adversity. It’s just conveying to guys that we need to lean on one another, we need to care about each other and it was good.”
Roberts has the rare opportunity to take over a team with legitimate World Series aspirations. Typically, new managers arrive in a rebuilding phase, or as a new voice brought in to halt recent struggles.
Roberts will take over a club that has won three consecutive National League West titles, but has not been able to advance to the World Series in any of those three seasons.
“There is a lot of focus on trying to accomplish our goal and I think we all have a goal of winning the World Series, as do 29 other teams, and we talked about what it’s going to entail,” Roberts said.
An accomplished player, who played 10 major league seasons, including three with the Dodgers, Roberts' most notable moment in the major leagues was his stolen base in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series for the Boston Red Sox. It started an improbable rally from a three-games-to-none deficit against the New York Yankees. The Red Sox went on to win the World Series.
Roberts built his coaching resume over the last seven seasons in the San Diego Padres organization, before the Dodgers hired him this winter to take over for Don Mattingly. His speech Thursday as a manager has been a long time coming.
“I think that there are always a lot of thoughts, and you want things to go over well and to be received in the right context,” Roberts said. “I think that at the end of the day there are certain things I want to convey to the players and I had to be myself.
“For me, I was just who I was. When you try to think about these opening speeches and addressing the team initially, when you try to be somebody you’re not it’s just not authentic. When I made the decision to just be myself, then that’s all you can do.”