Erickson to return as Timber Rattlers manager in 2013

December 18, 2012

The Milwaukee Brewers have announced that former Oshkosh Giant Matt Erickson will be returning as manager of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in 2013.

Wisconsin State League

The Milwaukee Brewers have announced that former Oshkosh Giant Matt Erickson will be returning as manager of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in 2013.

It came without wrapping paper, ribbons or bows, but the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have received a welcome Christmas present.

The Milwaukee Brewers announced Tuesday that manager Matt Erickson and his entire coaching staff will return to the Timber Rattlers for the 2013 season.

Erickson’s coaching staff guided the Timber Rattlers — a low Class A affiliate of the Brewers — to the Midwest League championship last season. It was the first Midwest League title won by a Fox Cities minor league franchise since the Appleton Foxes claimed the championship in 1984. The Rattlers went 78-61 during the regular season and 7-2 during the playoffs.

Erickson, 37, returns for his third season as Rattlers manager. He is well-regarded within the Brewers’ organization and has performed well enough to receive a promotion, but wasn’t offered one after telling Reid Nichols, the Brewers’ special assistant to the general manager/director of player development/training, at their annual exit meeting that he’d like to stay with the Rattlers for at least another season.

Erickson is an Appleton native and a family man who lives year-round in the Fox Cities with his wife, Julie, and their two young children, Maddox and Aubrey.

“This is just a real good fit for me right now, both personally and professionally,” said Erickson, a former multi-sport star at Appleton West. “I told Reid (Nichols) that and we didn’t talk about any other options. It’s just a great set-up for me. I was born and raised here in Appleton, and I care about baseball in Appleton and the Fox Cities.

“When I got into coaching, I thought about maybe coaching at the college level. Then this job became available in my back yard. I’ve had nothing but good situations here and have developed some nice relationships. So, I’m in no hurry to leave at this moment. I like to teach and there’s a lot of teaching that takes place at this level.”

Erickson said he wouldn’t rule out a future promotion.

“There may come a time when I might want to jump at an opportunity down the road, but now is not the time for that,” he said. “I’m very happy with what’s going on right now, right here. My dad always told me that I don’t care what you do, but enjoy what the heck you’re doing. And right now I really enjoy what I’m doing.”

Erickson is excited about retaining his entire coaching/training staff, which includes pitching coach Dave Chavarria, hitting coach Dusty Rhodes, athletic trainer Jeff Paxson and strength and conditioning specialist Christian Polega.

Chavarria returns for his second season with the Rattlers after spending 11 years as a coach and coordinator in the Texas Rangers’ organization. Rattlers pitchers compiled a 3.83 earned run average during the regular season and a stellar 2.00 ERA during the postseason.

Rhodes, a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, will be back for a third season in Grand Chute. He previously spent 23 years as head coach at the University of North Florida. The 2012 Timber Rattlers set a franchise record with 107 home runs.

Paxson will start his fourth year with the team and 20th with the Brewers organization. He was named as the Midwest League trainer of the year by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Association in 2010 and 2011, and was the PBATA’s national trainer of the year in 2011.

Polega returns for his second year with the Rattlers.

“When you have consistency on your staff, you can get a consistent message through to your players,” said Erickson. “This is rare because staffs seem to jump around more than players in minor league baseball. Contrary to my situation, most people are trying to move up in levels and trying to advance.

“Chavy (Chavarria) has a great temperament in working with the pitchers. Dusty (Rhodes) has a bunch of experience working at the college level and has made a great transition into the pro game. And Pax (Paxson) and Christian (Polega) do a great job on our training staff. I’m glad we’re going to get an opportunity to do this again.”

Team president Rob Zerjav was thrilled to learn his entire coaching/training staff will return.

“With Matt, it was something that we had a good feeling about with him being a local guy and raising his family here,” Zerjav said. “We love having him back. But to get the entire staff back after winning the championship, we didn’t think that was going to happen. It’s great because they work so well together. I couldn’t be happier to have them all back.”

Story by: Tim Froberg/Appleton Post-Crescent
Photo by: Ron Page/Appleton Post-Crescent

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