“Everyone was blown away by who he is, what he represents. You can see his energy, you can see the enthusiasm, and his ability to connect with people,” Andrew Friedman said.
“There’s a positivity and energy to Dave that really is the overriding thing in any conversation you have with him,” Farhan Zaidi added. “You can feel it in any room that he’s in.”
Today, fully entrenched in the daily operations of spring training, Roberts is creating a new type of energy among the players — employing creative team building exercises with total player involvement and even going as far as utilizing cutting edge neurological technology.
Bill Plunkett of The OC Register was among the first to report the Dodgers’ application of “NeuroScouting,” which, according to outfielder Scott Van Slyke, “is the science of improving your performance in terms of reaction and recognition.”
“I think it’s certainly about being open-minded (as an organization). In this day and age, there’s a lot of research and time spent on various technologies. We vet it very thoroughly on the front end and introduce different things to our players with what we’ve learned and make it something that’s available to our guys if they want to try it,” Friedman said.
As far as the teamwork-type of activities, Plunkett cited several examples which involved numerous players having to to plot the hometown of all their coaches and teammates on a map, as well as one player, Cody Bellinger, needing to chronicle his attempts to reach 10,000 Twitter followers by the end of spring training.
Bellinger even went as far as preparing a fundraising chart which documented his progress. Many of Bellinger’s teammates and coaches reached out to their own audiences on Twitter to help the cause:
In addition, Roberts also held “Coffee with Doc” sessions where players had isolated meetings with Roberts and other members of the training staff, coaching staff and front office, giving all the new members of the organization an opportunity to become familiar with one another.
“I got a lot of it from Buddy Black (ex-Padres manager) and I think he learned it from (Angels manager Mike) Scioscia. There are certain things you take from everybody that you like and some that you don’t and that don’t make sense, but that is one of those things I really enjoyed,” Roberts said.
In light of all of Roberts’ efforts, the squad seems to be heading in a new direction in terms of chemistry — something that former manager Don Mattingly, with his laid-back and unruffled approach, was often criticized for not working harder to attain.
Regardless, while all the synergistic games and team building exercises may be great for boosting morale in camp, they don’t necessarily translate to wins on the baseball field.
Ultimately, the manager can only do so much, as it’s up to the players to perform and orchestrate the victories on the diamond.
However, if the squad embraces even a small portion of the energy, knowledge and experience that Roberts is exuding, 2016 could turn out to be a very special season.
(Photo Credit: Ed Crisostomo/OC Register)