Rockies Veteran Squad Suits Cuddyer

The Colorado Rockies made a bevy of moves this offseason, but the first notable addition (also the most expensive) came December 16th, 2011 when the organization signed Michael Cuddyer to a 3-year, $31.5 million free agent contract, guaranteeing the corner outfield who turns 33 at the end of March nearly as much as he made in 11 years in Minnesota. 

Cuddyer said the decision to leave Minnesota wasn't easy, but he was swayed by how much Colorado seemed to want him. 

"I think when Dan [O'Dowd, Rockies G.M.] called me, he expressed this image of what he wanted to do with the club and the clubhouse and that I was the first part of that," Cuddyer said. "And just to show his excitement level, he had [Troy Tulowitzki] give me a call and [Jim Tracy] gave me a call and that really showed me their excitement level so I ended up picking them."

Cuddyer was also pleased with how O'Dowd lived up to his early December proclamations by acquiring veteran after veteran. 

"Then, seeing the rest of the transformation take place after me. Signing Casey Blake, bring in Marco Scutaro, and then you bring Jeremy Guthrie," Cuddyer noted. "He stuck to what he said he was going to do and it's really made me that much more excited to be here this spring."

Manager Jim Tracy was impressed with the way Cuddyer has embraced his teammates immediately.  He seems to be fitting in right at home in the Rockies clubhouse as he lockers by Blake and Todd Helton. 

"It's been great, they really welcomed me," he said. "The good thing is that I'm almost in the majority in being a new guy. Everybody is relatively new here so we're all just trying to feel each other out and figure out how we're going to succeed as a group."

Cuddyer talked about how it's important for the Rockies to have good chemistry and how that starts with Tulowitzki. 

"In Tulo's case, I think, you gotta have that face," Cuddyer said. "The face that the fans can relate to and kind of deliver the state of the union so to speak. Obviously, he's been here and had success here so it should be him [leading us]."

Still, this is a veteran bunch in Colorado to say the least.

"As far as in the clubhouse is concerned we're got a relatively veteran club now that will be able to police itself," Cuddyer said. "Everybody has that one common goal and that common goal is to win. We got a lot of guys that have been in winning clubhouses before that know how to make that happen."

Cuddyer talked openly about how he's going to lead specifically.

"Many people have different definitions of a leader," he said. "There are guys that get in your face like a football coach, but over the course of a season it's kind of exhausting to be that guy and it's exhausting on the players getting yelled at everyday.

"For me, it's about personally investing in your teammates and caring about them and caring more about your teammates than you do yourself and wanting them to succeed more than you want yourself to succeed because that is the only way you can grow as a unit or withstand a seven, eight month season. That's what I do, I care about my teammates and I try to get to know them all on a personal level and not just on the baseball field. I think when you do that you can bring out the best in people and players."

 Tracy talked about how Cuddyer's presence is already being felt and why that's important. 

"They know that he's really good with cards," Tracy joked, noting Cuddyer's exceptional card trick capabilities. "That's all good stuff, those are some of the things that are necessary. Just kind of relax the atmosphere if you will, relax the thought process. Make it easier to just go out there and play the game, bring people together.

"Any really good team you ever see in any given year, they get exactly what I'm talking about," he continued. "I've managed a couple of them [in Colorado] already that gets exactly what I'm talking to you guys about. We didn't get it as well last year, believe me when I tell you that. We're very interested in getting back to where we were the two years prior to last year. That's what we're interested in because that's a Rockies team. That's why Cuddyer fits in so very, very well." 

Rockies Digest Top Stories