Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Interview Part 3: Mike Quade, Own Advice

Rochester manager Mike Quade coaching third at Frontier Field in July 2015 as hitter Reynaldo Rodriguez takes a swing. (Greatest 21 Days)
Part 1: Career Map | Part 2: Bigger Journey
Part 3: Own Advice

Mike Quade won a full season as Cubs manager for 2011 largely on a strong finish for his club in 2010. The team went a surprising 24-13 down the stretch and Quade's "interim" tag was removed.

Quade's Cubs, though, couldn't continue that good play into 2011. The team finished in fifth place for the second-consecutive season and Quade wasn't invited back.

"Just like everything else," Quade said, "you better learn from some things. All the different things - I had plenty to learn from with all the things we had to deal with. Whether its personalities, injuries, just a lot of different stuff.

"Some of that stuff gets smoothed out when you're winning. But when you're not, and you're a new young manager, everybody's pointing the finger, questioning you, it becomes an even more difficult situation."

He was disappointed when he didn't get the chance to come back for 2012. He said his team still battled through the season.

"But," he said, "that's baseball and that's the way it goes. There's no crying in baseball. You can't worry about what's taken place. You learn from it and you move on.

"You talk to the players about that - You make your adjustments and move on. Recognize what just happened. Put it in your memory bank. If you're going to appeal to your players to do that, then you damn well better take your own advice."

Quade has taken his own advice, returning to the field with the Yankees as a roving instructor in 2014. In 2015, he's returned to the field as a manager with the Twins, taking the helm of AAA Rochester. He spoke to The Greatest 21 Days before a game recently at Rochester's Frontier Field.
Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro waits for a pitch at Miami's Sun Life Stadium in May 2011. In the dugout to the right is then-Cubs manager Mike Quade. (Greatest 21 Days)
Quade's first shot at the majors came in 2000 as first base coach with the Athletics. That came just over 20 years after his baseball career began as a player.

Quade had been with the Athletics for four seasons as a minor league manager, the previous two seasons as AAA. He credited his own promotion to the players he had in the minors. In 1999, those players included for varying stints Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito.

"It was kind of like you moved right along with them," Quade said. "So I give credit in the world to those kids for being good players and the work that they did and it was a thrill."

And about his own first call to the majors?

"It doesn't matter whether you're playing or coaching, your first trip there and the opportunity to go there is great," Quade said. "And then on top of that we had three straight years where we made the playoffs."

Quade stayed in Oakland through 2002. He then moved to the Cubs and returned to managing in the minors, taking over AAA Iowa. He managed there for four seasons, then returned to the majors as third base coach with the Cubs in 2007.

It was in August 2010 that Quade was named interim Cubs manager. Most assumed it would be Cubs bench coach and Quade friend Alan Trammell. Quade praised Trammell, saying Trammell should be in the Hall of Fame. He and Trammell are still good friends.

But Quade said he was "surprised and thrilled" to be offered the job. "It was a little bit out of the blue," he said. "It caught me off guard."
Newly minted Cubs manager Mike Quade exchanges lineup cards with Reds manager Dusty Baker Aug. 27, 2010, at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. (Greatest 21 Days)
Quade took the job. He also realized he was the 'interim manager.' But he also knew his time spent as the interim manager could also lead to that interim tag being dropped.

The Cubs weren't having a good year, but the players finished strong. "Good players," he said, "make good opportunities for coaches."

"They had as much to do with me being brought back as the manager as anybody else," Quade said.

At season's end, the Cubs kept him on, even bypassing fan favorite Ryne Sandberg.

"You do the best you can, you prepare yourself, you have good staff members and you go to war," Quade said. "And things went well. I believe had we not finished well, maybe I don't get that opportunity."

He got that opportunity, managed for all of 2011 then was let go. On top of the poor season, the Cubs had a new front office. Quade decided to take the next year off. He had been in the game by then 30 years. He had some other things he wanted to work on.

That one year then turned into two as some opportunities he had fell through. He enjoyed his first year off. The second year, though, was different.
Rochester manager Mike Quade during batting practice in July 2015 at Frontier Field. (Greatest 21 Days)
"By about mid-summer I was climbing the walls," Quade said. "I go, 'I'm too young for this. I'm not retiring. I'm not done.'"

The Yankees then came calling with a roving instructor position for 2014. He'd never roved and it interested him. He got to work with kids in rookie ball all the way up to AAA working on different aspects of their game.

"It kept me fresh," Quade said. "It was really good."

The Rochester job, he recalled, came by happenstance. Quade had known Twins general manager Terry Ryan for years, but they never really talked often. but Ryan called on another matter and the conversation turned to Quade's job situation.

That conversation led Quade to Rochester.

A couple hours after he spoke to The Greatest 21 Days, Quade's Rochester Red Wings took on the visiting Lehigh Valley IronPigs. With his Red Wings up, Quade took his regular position in the third base coaching box. Offense, though, was at a premium. His Red Wings eventually fell 1-0.

"This can be a tough level," Quade said. "But this group of people they've assembled here. These players and my staff, most of them have a lot of experience. The young kids they come in and fit right in, they tow the line, they love to have fun and they know the difference between fun and business."/

Part 1: Career Map | Part 2: Bigger Journey
Part 3: Own Advice

Be sure to read Part 1: Mike Quade, Career Map

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