Listach managed the Cubs’ Double-A team at West Tennessee this past season and will manage the Mesa Solar Sox in this year’s Fall League.
The 39-year-old recently learned he’d be formally interviewed for the Cubs’ managerial vacancy later this week by General Manager Jim Hendry.
One could understand if Listach was distracted by the business of interviewing for his first ever big league managerial position.
Instead, he is only focused on the current task at hand: preparing players for big league careers in the AFL.
“I got here (last) Tuesday and have gotten to know most of the guys on this team,” said Listach, who will manage players from the Cubs, Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets and L.A. Dodgers’ organizations.
“Some of these guys have been coming in late because they were in the major leagues, so there are a few guys I don’t really know that well,” Listach said. “But the position guys, I know all 15 of them. They’ve been here since day one. I don’t know all of the pitchers yet and what they’ve got, or what their repertoires are and things like that.”
One of the players in the major leagues that Listach alluded to was infielder Scott Moore. Along with Moore, Cubs position players tapped for AFL action are catcher Jake Fox and second baseman Eric Patterson.
Cubs pitchers on hand for this year’s Fall League include: Adam Harben, Lincoln Holdzkom, Carmen Pignatiello, and Clay Rapada.
Harben was not one of the original pitchers slated to participate in this year’s Fall League (at least not for the Cubs), but he will go in place of right-hander Grant Johnson.
Head-to-head play begins Tuesday when the Solar Sox travel to Phoenix to face the Desert Dogs, defending Fall League champions. The Dogs will house prospects from the A’s, Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Reds and Tigers’ organizations.
Harben, acquired from Minnesota recently to complete the Phil Nevin trade to the Twins on Aug. 31, is scheduled to start Tuesday’s opener.
“He asked to get the start,” Listach said.
Listach himself is ready to get started.
“The players are in good shape,” Listach said. “That’s the bottom line. We’ve got some talented players and a few guys out here that need to work on a few things to take to the next level and that’s why they’re here.”
Listach gave a preview of what he and his staff hope many of the pitching prospects in particular will work on.
“A lot of these guys, we’re trying to clean up their delivery, like having a more consistent breaking ball or slider, whatever it is that they throw,” Listach said. “We’re trying to hold runners on better. These are the minor things that are only going to help you at the major league level.
“These guys here, they have great arms, but maybe they don’t hold runners well, or they don’t field bunts well, or throw to the bases well. These are the things that will make you a complete major league player. A lot of guys out here have great arms, but you have to put it all together. Just having a good arm doesn’t make you a pitcher.”
Ticket prices for individual Fall League games are $6 per adult and $5 for seniors age 55 and older, and children age 17 or younger. The Solar Sox play all Fall League home games at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.
“I’m excited about the guys we have,” Listach said.