Tony Díaz, Rodney Linares to Manage in La Liga Dominicana
Next winter, MLB coaches Rodney Linares and Tony Díaz will share Estadio Quisqueya as opposing managers in La Liga Dominicana.
Rodney Linares clues his father, Julio Linares, in on every professional decision that comes his way. It was no different when Los Leones del Escogido, a professional baseball team within La Liga Dominicana, offered the Tampa Bay Rays third coach their managerial job.
“C’mon,” the father told the son playfully. “I played and managed for Escogido.”
That’s all he had to hear from his dad. It was a done deal.
Though it’s too soon to begin the process of planning for the upcoming season, Linares thinks about it everyday.
“I want to win a championship,” he said. “It’s the one thing I haven’t done in any level.”
For years, Linares has been an advocate for having more Dominicans manage in the famed Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana. He himself regularly worked in the Dominican League, managing Las Estrellas Orientales, Las Águilas Cibaeñas, and Los Gigantes del Cibao, taking off last winter because of COVID and to be with his family.
Less than a month after being hired by Los Leones, a fellow countryman and one of his most respected peers, Minnesota Twins third base coach Tony Díaz, also accepted a manager’s job with Los Tigres del Licey. With both teams representing Santo Domingo, Linares and Díaz will share Estadio Quisqueya.
They also share a mutual respect for one another.
“I’m super happy for Tony,” Linares said. “I couldn’t be happier to be representing Santo Domingo with him.”
Díaz also expressed excitement for Linares, saying, “I’m super proud of him. He has way overpaid his dues.”
How a Liceísta’s Dreams Came True
For Tony Díaz, the process of becoming the manager of Los Tigres del Licey happened rather quickly. Without a way to contact him directly, general manager Carlos José Lugo found a connection through Minnesota Twins Communications Coordinator/Spanish Interpreter Elvis Martínez.
Upon receiving the phone call, the decision was a no-brainer for Díaz. Especially upon getting his family’s blessing.
Díaz grew up a fan of Licey. Finally getting a chance to lead the team this coming winter is a dream come true. “Especially since I played in the Manny Mota League,” he points out.
A mentor of his, one of Mota’s many accomplishments is leading Licey to back-to-back championships in 1983-84. Sure, Díaz has big shoes to fill, but his approach will not change.
One big thing he hopes will come of his decision to manage in the Winter Leagues is that more Latino and Minor League coaches get inspired. For many, managing in La Liga Dominicana is a stepping stone to a Big League job.
“It’s a competitive and demanding league,” he said. “For anyone that wants to grow, it happens with hard work and focus reps.”
With years of experience and practicing what they preach, hopefully, this is the last step Linares and Díaz have to take before getting a managerial job in the majors. Then, the ball will continue to roll for more young Latinos to take on higher jobs within the industry.
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