Hill doesn't let distractions linger at Triple-A level

Hill doesn't let distractions linger at Triple-A level

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In retrospect, Glenallen Hill, the manager of the Rockies' Triple-A club in Colorado Springs, had a decent team in 2013 during his first year on the job. He just rarely had a chance to manage it.

Infielders Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu and outfielders Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon were part of the Sky Sox's regulars for the first month of the season. But Arenado was in the Majors at the end of the first month, LeMahieu by the end of the second. Dickerson and Blackmon spent most of the second half in the Major League starting lineup. Charlie Culberson also turned out to be valuable for the Rockies after a period in the Springs.

Hill, 49, doesn't bemoan the Rockies' need to pluck from his roster, although his club ended up 67-76 in the Pacific Coast League. He sees his job as bigger than the record in Triple-A. It's holding the focus and attention of his players, some of whom were disappointed they weren't in the Majors at the beginning.

"I talk about distractions, and distractions come in many forms," Hill said. "Being disappointed because you're in Triple-A is a distraction, and I'll have no part of having distractions. They are there for one reason, and that is to put themselves in position to help the Major League team.

"During the course of the year, and it was proven to the younger kids that are up here now, anything can happen. If you're sulking and if you are not totally focused on preparing yourself to win that game that day, you're doing yourself, me and the organization a disservice."

Before going to Colorado Springs, Hill spent six years as the Rockies' first-base coach, and before that was a coach in the Rockies' system. That time also included a brief period as manager in Class A. After watching Hill operate at Colorado Springs, members of the organization see him as a prospect to manage in the Majors, which is Hill's goal.

Hill has spent his coaching career embracing initiatives such as assessing players' individual learning styles and taking those into account in his teaching. He also became a student of leadership methods. It all comes into play in Colorado Springs, where players are trying to shore up deficiencies while also dealing with the disappointment that comes with being so close to the Majors but having to wait.

Sometimes, Hill said, that means being patient and allowing a player or the team to struggle toward a goal.

"I put my hands on them physically and mentally -- in a quiet, subtle way, but it's there," Hill said. "I'd like them to feel they're supported. They know I'm going to tell them the truth. But I'm not going to beat them over the head with the truth unless the situation requires that, and they respect that communication.

"I like to create an uncomfortable environment for the players at some point in time to extend their awareness. I encourage them to get out of the box, try something and evaluate it and come out with a takeaway."

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.