DENVER -- Tom Runnells emerged from his interview for the Rockies' vacant managerial post with the club's front office and ownership at the end of last week. Runnells, 57, the bench coach under Jim Tracy since 2009, was the first candidate to interview since Tracy resigned Oct. 7. The Rockies' search is starting with Runnells and Triple-A Colorado Springs manager Stu Cole. The Rockies are coming off the worst finish in their history at 64-98, but Runnells said whoever the new manager is will benefit from a squad that should have Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton, Michael Cuddyer and Ramon Hernandez back from season-ending injuries, and a pitching staff that missed Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa and Juan Nicasio for significant portions of 2012.
"Regardless what position I'm in, I'm excited and we're excited about what the Rockies can do next year," Runnells said. "Certainly, if we stay healthy and do nothing more, with another year under our young players' belts, we've got to be a much better ballclub." Beyond hoping for health, the Rockies' front office has spent a year re-examining their pitching strategy and how the club is run in general. That could be an advantage for an in-house candidate such as Runnells, who joined the organization as a Minor League manager in 2001. For much of his time in the Minors, he worked for Bill Geivett, the team's new senior vice president of Major League operations. Geivett is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the club and will be with the team at home and on the road. The club has been criticized for being slow to change front-office personnel or make other major changes. Runnells, who met with Geivett, general manager Dan O'Dowd and owner and CEO Dick Monfort during the interview process, doesn't have magic words to curb that, but said he would work to provide the improvement that would make fans happy. "I certainly think the quickest and easiest way for people to change or feel good about our ballclub is to win," Runnells said. "Certainly we've got talented players and good young players, but we've got to perform. No matter what position I'm in, I can guarantee that we are going to play hard, play enthusiastic baseball and hopefully if things come together that will provide a lot of wins. "For me to sit and predict anything, that's not in my nature. I'm sure that the players are going to do their best, and the staff and front office will do its best to put a competitive ballclub out there." Runnells said he will wait patiently for the decision. The Rockies haven't announced a timetable. They've yet to interview Cole, nor have they made a public statement about outside candidates. Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr., Phillies third-base coach Ryne Sandberg, Dodgers third-base coach Tim Wallach and free-agent first baseman Jason Giambi, who has been a knowledgeable presence for teammates and the front office while playing for the Rockies from 2009-12, have been mentioned. Giambi has not retired as a player. "I'm not nervous," Runnells said. "I am very good with whatever the decision is. Whatever I can do to help this organization, that's my No. 1 goal, whether it's as a manager or a coach or a part of the staff, whatever they ask me to do."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.