MILWAUKEE – A week ago, Joe Maddon stood behind the batting cage at Wrigley Field talking to his old pal and former Angels coaching co-worker, Ron Roenicke.
“I talked to him at length,” the Cubs manager said. “And I really truly believe he had no idea that anything was on the horizon.”
Within hours after the last-place Brewers closed out a series win over the Cubs at Wrigley, Roenicke was fired just 25 games into his fifth season as Brewers manager.
The Brewers finished three of his four full seasons with winning records, going 342-331 overall, including a division title – but lost 39 of his final 55 games, including last year’s late-season collapse.
“Ronnie’s outstanding,” Maddon said. “As a manger, he had an over-.500 record here for the last several years. He does a wonderful job. But working with him on a coaching staff, he’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with.”
They won a World Series together on Mike Scioscia’s 2002 Angels coaching staff.
“He’s a really good friend. I know it’s going to work out well for him,” Maddon said. “And I know it’s kicking his butt right now; I know it is. We’ve texted. I’ll give him a call soon. It was awful.”
Maddon made sure also to congratulate first-time manager Craig Counsell, who moved from the Brewers front office to replace Roenicke as manager.
“I’m sure he feels awful how it came about, but he can’t worry about that,” said Maddon, who knows something about that feeling after replacing well liked baseball lifer Rick Renteria as Cubs manager this year. “That’s the way this world works. That’s the way this industry works. When you get this opportunity, regardless of how it showed up, it’s something you have to take advantage of.”