Baseball coach thinks outside the diamond

Dennis Rogers and Bob Miller will share the duties as the head and co-head coaches for Victoria's West Coast League baseball franchise

Dennis Rogers will lead Victoria’s 2013 debut into the West Coast League.

The Victoria Baseball Club has named its head coach, and it’s a “them” not a “him.”

Dennis Rogers and Bob Miller will share the duties as the head and co-head coaches, respectively, for the soon-to-be-named West Coast League baseball franchise.

Boston-raised Rogers has managed minor league teams in the Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland Athletics associations, including Oakland’s single-A affiliate Vancouver Canadians in 2003 and 2004. He’s currently head of the Riverside Community College baseball team in California, which he helped build from the ground up. Miller is a well seasoned college coach and has coached Cuesta College in California the past nine seasons.

“I wanted to have someone to bounce ideas off of and Miller can handle it all – pitchers, infielders and outfielders,” Rogers said. “And I want to think outside of the box, if and when we can.”

Miller was absent for his and Rogers’ introduction at the team’s future home of Royal Athletic Park on Tuesday morning. It’s the third press conference by the team in as many months, having announced the franchise in June and the hiring of Jones as GM in July.

Though Jones is well-versed, Rogers can talk enough for all of them.

“You’ll get tired of hearing me talk about the process,” Rogers said. “I like to say, we expect to win the championship but will settle with mediocrity. You don’t talk about playing for the championship until the day comes that you’re in it.”

Rather, Rogers said he wants players to live in the moment.

“It’s the day to day process that I’ll be focused on.”

Rogers appears to be more than just another bum-scratching bench boss. He spoke a lot about finding new ways to inspire the team. His prime example was free-climber Alex Honnold, who is famous for scaling challenging rock-faces without a harness or safety rope. Rogers, with the help of his daughter, spent the better part of a week tracking Honnold down in Yosemite National Park just to get him to speak to his Riverside baseball team.

“I said to Honnold, ‘How do you it, if you slip, you die?,’ and he said, ‘I don’t think about that.’

“I’ll try anything to spark the players’ mental approach during the season.”

Rogers’ “outside-the-box” thinking extends home, too. He and his wife also home schooled their children to early graduation.

The league uses NCAA eligible players only, meaning they must have amateur status.

Opening Day is early in June, 2013. Rogers and Miller are already taking commitments from players. With a tight turnaround from the end of college season, Rogers said not to expect the team to arrive until late in May.

The Victoria Whatchamcalits

Though the window for submissions is still open, the community has made more than 500 name suggestions to the team’s website. Most of them are viable options, while some are silly, and others satirical, Jones said.

The team will most likely have its name and logo completed by the first week of October.

Co-owner John McLean made it clear he would like to align the club with Victoria’s baseball history, if possible. Baseball dates back to the 1880s in Victoria with the James Bay Athletic Association. Early names include the 1911 Victoria Islanders (later named the Bees), 1913 Capitals and 1915 Maple Leafs.

Jones said throwback names is one of the three themes that were most consistently submitted. The other two relate to the area’s marine geography and as a capital.