Threshers manager Truby is focused on his players

Threshers manager Truby is focused on his players

Threshers manager Truby is focused on his players
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jesse Biddle says Chris Truby is a man of few words, and he should know. The 20-year-old left-hander and the third-year manager have been together for three seasons now. They've moved together from Williamsport of the New York-Penn League to Lakewood of the South Atlantic League and now to the Class A Florida State League Threshers.

"He keeps things pretty laid back in the clubhouse. He never really gets up in people's business too much," Biddle said. "He doesn't say too much to us. But when he's serious, we all pay attention."

Back in Philadelphia, the front office is paying attention, too.

Phillies fans are well aware of Triple-A Lehigh Valley manager Ryne Sandberg, the Hall of Fame second baseman. They know that Mickey Morandini, second baseman for the pennant-winning 1993 Phillies, is at Class A Lakewood. They don't know that much about Truby, even though in his own way he's as much of an up-and-comer as Biddle, who is rated the organization's No. 2 prospect by

"He has discipline on his club. Players play hard for him," said assistant general manager of player personnel Benny Looper. "He works hard at it. He has the respect of the players and, lastly, he knows the game. He played at the Major League level, which a lot of guys have, I know. But he studies the game and knows the game."

Assistant director of player development Steve Noworyta said, "He knows the game. He sees the game in front of him very well. Just the way he handles the players and his whole demeanor and his respect for the Phillies Way."

Like anybody else, Truby has ambition. Sure, he'd like to manage in the big league someday. But that's not his focus. It can't be.

"Obviously you want to move up and advance with your own career, but ultimately you're here for the players. My won-lost record doesn't mean a lot to me, to be honest with you. It's being able to watch these guys get better," he said.

"I like the game, and whatever happens from here on out happens. I'm not trying to groom myself just to be a big league manager. You don't have a whole lot of control over it. As a player, you focus on yourself. As a manager or coach, you've got 25 guys out there to worry about, and ultimately the last guy you worry about is yourself."

Truby is the only Phillies Minor League manager who didn't have a previous connection to the organization when he was hired. He played a total of 263 games for the Astros, Expos, Tigers and Rays. After retiring in 2007, he took a job as a hitting coach in the Pirates' player development system and then was a coach at Class A Lynchburg for two years.

"Towards the end of my career, I was the older guy who helped the younger players. I like coaching. I like teaching. I like being in the clubhouse. I like everything about the game," he said. "So once you're not good enough to play anymore, if you want to stick around, you only have a couple options. And this intrigued me from the last years I played. I was fortunate to get an opportunity here."

The opportunity came in an out-of-the-blue call from Noworyta while he was managing in Hawaii Winter Baseball. A couple days after the phone interview, he was offered the Williamsport job.

"I'd heard a lot of good things about him," Noworyta said. "Doug Mansolino, who is our infield coordinator, had mentioned his name -- that he was over in Pittsburgh working with the hitters and as a coach. He said, 'I'm not sure if they're going to hire him as a manager, but he would make a very good manager.' I called Pittsburgh and they were not going to offer him a manager's job just yet."

Every former player who gets into managing is influenced by those he played for. Truby is no exception and singles out Manny Acta, who now manages the Indians, as being especially influential.

"I liked Manny. He was always looking to learn something, was always available, was always out there to help and to work," Truby said. "But you learn that you're here for the players. That's the important part. And most of the managers I played for, we got that feeling. Which is important. You want to feel that the manager is there to help you."

His Clearwater players seem to get the message.

"He's the kind of guy you want to play well for and win for," Biddle said. "He's a man of few words. But the ones he does say are helpful."

And on the rare occasions where Truby does lose his temper?

"When he's yelling, we're listening. And you're a little bit scared," Biddle said with a grin.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.