GRAND CHUTE — You could say coaching is in his blood. Now, it’s in his job title. Lance Roenicke, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke’s son, will serve as a “player/coach” for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers this season, with a heavy emphasis on the coaching aspect.
“My dad was the first one to give me a call and give me a heads up, saying, ‘hey there might be a coaching position opening up in Appleton, if you’d be interested,'” said the younger Roenicke.
Roenicke made the switch from player to player/coach towards the end of Spring Training this year. He spent parts of the last two seasons playing outfield for the Timber Rattlers, but says he will now focus almost exclusively on coaching (he said he’ll only play in a scenario like the flu breaking out among players). He says it wasn’t easy to give up on his dream to play pro baseball.
“Physically, mentally I feel like I can still play,” said Roenicke. “It was tough, and it’s something that won’t leave you.”
Timber Rattlers manager Matt Erickson says Roenicke will start the season as the team’s first base coach and do work with outfielders. His new charges, some of whom are former teammates, say they see qualities of a good coach in the 25-year-old Roenicke.
“Everyone respects Lance as a coach, you know, he’s an older guy,” said 20-year-old catcher Clint Coulter. “He’s got a lot of good knowledge, learned a lot of the game. He’s a good guy to be around.”
While Roenicke says his playing career “is behind me for now,” he’s happy to have a chance to stay involved in baseball. This time last year he dreamed of playing at Miller Park, now he’s developing dreams of one day coaching at the Major League level.
“Last year I was answering questions about playing for my dad one day, how would that be,” said Roenicke. “Coaching alongside my dad, that would be an unbelievable experience.”