The man behind the Missions

It was just over a year ago that San Antonio Missions, the San Diego Padres new Double-A affiliate, manager Randy Ready was up for a job with the big league club.

He interviewed for the vacant third base coaching position and was one of the finalists for a job that eventually went to Glenn Hoffman.

"To be considered for a major league job and to go through the process with a major league interview that is an advantage and another feather in the cap," Ready admitted.

He returned to manage the Fort Wayne Wizards in 2006, the Padres' Low-A affiliate, for the third straight season, guiding them to the playoffs – a feat he accomplished all three years with the club.

In fact, in his five years managing minor league teams – a career that began in 2002 when he led the Detroit Tigers' short-season affiliate Oneonta to a first place finish – Ready has gone to the postseason every season.

A Texas League alumnus as a player – Ready led the league in five different offensive categories for the Milwaukee Brewers Double-A El Paso Diablos affiliate in 1982 – Ready brings a 300-266 career managerial record into the season.

"I believe he will be a big league coach or manager one day," Wizards' general manager Mike Nutter confided. "Randy couldn't be more approachable or more accessible. He is so great relating to people and he is as good at it as I have ever seen."

"Randy Ready has been considered for jobs in the past and has the qualities and experience that would make him an excellent coach in the big leagues," Padres' vice president of scouting and player development, Grady Fuson agreed.

Ready understands the meaning of versatility. He played five different positions on the field during a 13-year career and is one of the few men in the sport to have more walks than strikeouts.

His philosophies, therefore, are on par with Fuson. With a system the stresses being "patiently aggressive", Ready speaks from experience.

"You have to get everyone on the same page," said Ready. "I don't think that has been a problem in the past. I think overall it is just going to be a big advantage as far as development is concerned for the San Diego Padres organization."

It is no surprise that Ready has won everywhere he has gone.

His ability to blend his knowledge and experiences of the game into a format that his players understand and can appreciate is what separates him from the pack. He knows when to have fun with his troops, knows when to be stern and knows when they are better served by being left alone.

With Ready moving up the chain as a manager, he inherits a team he knows. Many of the players who will don a Missions uniform this year were one-time Wizards.

"Randy Ready emphasized you come to the ballpark and have a routine and do the same thing everyday," infielder Brett Dowdy, who played for Ready in 2004, said. "You come out you get your 15, 20 ground balls, you take 15, 20 good swings, you go out and take infield and it is something you do everyday so you get ready and focused for the game."

"Randy, first of all, had so many one-liners and silly self-quotes that everyday was an adventure," left-hander Sean Thompson recalled of his time in Fort Wayne under Ready as a 21-year-old. "Randy took the game and his position very seriously. He treated us as men of the game, weeding out our immaturities and leading us into the pro ball."

"Randy Ready was one of the best managers I have ever been with," third baseman David Freese, who played under Ready last year, said.

As for the season, Ready looks forward with optimism.

"There is always a new enthusiasm as far as overall excitement this time of year," Ready said. "We go into spring training, get our 25 guys and go start our season. It is that time of year where everyone's expectations are high as we look forward to a great Championship season."

That would be a welcome change. Over the last 20 years, San Antonio has made the playoffs eight times, winning the League Championship three times. They have, however, missed the playoffs in two of the last three seasons.

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