While the Brewers and Padres open a three game set at Miller Park tonight, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers manager Matt Erickson will be celebrating a minor milestone in their game against Clinton. It's his 200th professional game as manager, all with Wisconsin.
Erickson, an Appleton native, played eleven professional seasons (including a cup of coffee with the Brewers in 2004) before moving into coaching, and served as Wisconsin's hitting coach before becoming manager in 2011.
Wisconsin pitching coach Dave Chavarria cited Erickson's communication skills as one of his strongest assets as manager.
"He's really good at communicating with the players. On the bench he's constantly talking about situations, he wants input," Chavarria said. "That's the big thing. He also has a calming influence on the guys."
Erickson says if he could go back to tell himself one thing before his first game, he'd tell himself to "control the bullpen better."
"I think that's something you learn as you go, dealing with the personnel you have on a daily basis," Erickson said. "But one thing for me, the position players and the game situations and the competitiveness once the game starts is fun for me. I think I have a feel for it. Learning your personnel in the bullpen and how it fits and when to use them so you're not just lining them up for success on that day, you're lining the team up for success for the next 3-4-5 days. So that's something I would've told myself: Make sure you really know your personnel and that your bullpen knows their roles."
Chavarria said the way the team plays reflects their manager, and Erickson has his team playing the game the right way.
"The way that he goes about it is not a over-the-top, throw everything type of thing. It's 'let's be under control, think about the situation' and stuff a lot," Chavarria said. "What he communicates comes across in the players, and the players respond really well."
After last night's loss, Erickson is 104-95 as Wisconsin's manager.