DENVER – Walt Weiss is making the rare jump from the high school dugout to the big leagues.
The Colorado Rockies hired the former major league shortstop Wednesday night to replace manager Jim Tracy, who resigned Oct. 7 with one year and $1.4 million left on his contract rather than return to a club where its assistant general manager had moved into an office in the clubhouse.
The 1988 AL Rookie of the Year with Oakland, Weiss played shortstop for the Rockies from 1994-97 and was a special assistant to general manager Dan O’Dowd from 2002-08.
He left to spend more time with his family and last season coached Regis Jesuit High School outside Denver, in Aurora, to a 20-6 record and the 5A semifinals of the state championship. Weiss’ son, Brody, is in his senior year at the school.
A team spokesman said Weiss would be introduced at a news conference Friday at Coors Field.
Weiss and Arizona coach Matt Williams were the finalists to replace Tracy, who quit following the worst season in franchise history. Rockies bench coach Tom Runnells and first baseman Jason Giambi also interviewed.
The 48-year-old Weiss spent parts of 14 seasons in the major leagues, also playing for Oakland (1987-92), Florida (1993) and Atlanta (1998-2000). A .258 career hitter, he was an All-Star in the 1998 game at Denver’s Coors Field.
Colorado had more familiarity with Weiss than with Williams.
“He would take trips in the minor leagues. He was always around with the major league club at home, as well,” Geivett said earlier Wednesday. “I know Walt pretty well.”
Weiss is just the sixth manager for the Rockies, following Don Baylor (1993-98), Jim Leyland (1999), Buddy Bell (2000-02), Clint Hurdle (2002-09) and Tracy (2009-12).
Colorado went 64-98 last season under Tracy, who was promoted from bench coach to manager in May 2009 and was voted the NL Manager of the Year after guiding Colorado into the playoffs that season.
The Rockies started strong in 2010 but faded at the finish and they ended up going 294-308 under Tracy, who also had worked with Geivett in Montreal and Los Angeles.
Energized by the young players and the challenge of fixing things, Tracy said repeatedly toward the end of last season that he wanted to fulfill the final year on his contract in 2013. But he changed his mind after meeting with Geivett following the team’s last-place finish in the NL West.
Things changed dramatically for Tracy on Aug. 1 when Geivett, the assistant general manager, was given an office in the clubhouse and began focusing on roster management, particularly as it related to the pitchers, and evaluating the coaching staff and the rest of the players. Tracy’s responsibilities were narrowed to game management and meeting with the media.
“I thought we worked together fine,” Geivett said after Tracy’s surprise resignation last month.
Geivett had said that structure will remain in place next season but he didn’t think that would be an issue in his search for a new manager.
In addition to altering their front office, with O’Dowd focusing his attention on the minor leagues and player development, the Rockies last summer reacted to Coors Field playing like its pre-humidor days by adopting a radical four-man rotation and a 75-pitch limit with several designated piggyback relievers, a much-derided experiment that lasted two months.
Geivett has said the Rockies will return to a traditional five-man rotation next season with pitch limits determined on a case-by-case basis.
BLUE JAYS: Infielder Maicer Izturis became the first major league free agent this offseason to join a new team, agreeing to a $10 million, three-year contract with Toronto. The 32-year-old hit .256 with 17 steals in 19 tries, two homers and 20 RBI this year for the Los Angeles Angels.
MARLINS: Tino Martinez has been hired as hitting coach. A first baseman in the majors for 16 years, Martinez has been a New York Yankees special assistant and had a career average of .271 with 339 home runs for the Yankees, Mariners, Cardinals and Rays.
PIRATES: Former Yankees scout Bill Livesey has been hired as senior adviser to general manager Neal Huntington. The 72-year-old Livesey, whose son Jeff was Pittsburgh’s minor league hitting coordinator the last two seasons, has also worked with the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays.
INDIANS: Cleveland Indians has signed infielder Luis Hernandez to a minor league contract and re-signed right-hander Hector Rondon. Hernandez, who spent most of 2012 with Texas’ Triple-A affiliate, appeared in two games for the Rangers. Rondon, once considered a top prospect, has been slowed by two elbow surgeries.