Rice baseball officially welcomed Jose Cruz Jr. as its 22nd head coach, a moment that sparked hope and excitement in the Owls’ fanbase.
Flanked by his family, Jose Cruz Jr. was officially welcomed as the 22nd Rice baseball head coach on Tuesday evening. Donning a No. 22 jersey just like his playing days, the newest Owl coach flashed a familiar smile, delivering a confident, almost whimsical remark: “Hey, dreams do come true.”
In his introductions, athletic director Joe Karlgaard was crystal clear regarding the significance that Cruz has already had on South Main, calling him “one of the architects” that built Rice baseball into an Omaha-caliber program. Cruz didn’t stray far from his roots in his return to Houston, and in Karlgaard’s own estimation, “there weren’t many people who’d seen more Rice baseball games over the past five or six years than Jose.”
Cruz will have a much closer view the next time he walks through the gates of Reckling Park. For the time being, he’s been on the phone with his team. He already knows a good portion of the roster from his time around the ballpark. Now he’s going deeper, sharing his vision and talking about what he intends to build at South Main.
As for his coaching style, Cruz tipped his cap to former Houston Astros’ manager and current Detroit Tiger skipper, AJ Hinch for his teaching in recent months, saying he’s learned a lot from Hinch and others over his career in baseball.
When it comes to how Cruz intends to run the ship, he plans to draw from several of those lessons learned along the way. “There’s some old school to it.” Cruz said of his coaching philosophy, “but it’s more of a modern style.” He went on to add that he’s “not going to be a big yeller about stuff”, stressing instead that he’ll focus on development and giving his players “the best possible opportunity” for success.”
With the pleasantries exchanged and opening remarks nearly finished, Cruz still wore his resolute smile. “We’re going to be closer to what we’re talking about being here at Rice,” he said, looking expectantly toward the future. A day both Jose Cruz Jr., and the Rice baseball family, are eager to embrace.
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