With a new stadium and affiliated baseball potentially on the way to downtown Wichita, the independent Wingnuts face an uncertain future.
They added another aspect to that uncertainty by allowing manager Pete Rose Jr.’s two-year contract to lapse, announcing this week that the team and Rose had parted ways.
Rose, the 47-year-old son of baseball’s career hits leader, led the Wingnuts to American Association championship series appearances in both of his seasons after replacing Kevin Hooper. The Wingnuts lost in five games to Winnipeg both years.
Rose previously managed in the Chicago White Sox organization following a 21-year playing career that included 11 games for the Cincinnati Reds in 1997.
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The future of the Wingnuts, who have been playing at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium since 2008, seems unclear following the 2018 season. Wichita mayor Jeff Longwell has pledged to bring an affiliated minor-league team to a new stadium in the coming years.
“Hard feelings? No,” Rose said. “I understand. It’s a business.”
Rose managed this season without the security of a long-term contract and said there were rarely conversations about his future.
“It was just a different year compared to the first year,” Rose said.
In a press release on Monday, Wingnuts general manager Josh Robertson said, “We feel it is in the best interest of our organization that we have a new approach with the manager position.”
Rose said he had a “good working relationship” with Robertson.
Rose has consistently stated his goal of managing in the major leagues. He inquired about the managing job for Chicago, an American Association expansion team, but it had been filled by the time Rose became available.
“I love the league, it’s a great league,” said Rose, who lives in Cincinnati with his wife, Shannon, and children Isabella and Peter III. “I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
As the Wingnuts get ready to start the season, manager Pete Rose Jr. talked about this year's team and his expectations for the season. The Wingnuts open up their season on May 18 against the Salina Stockade. (Video by Fernando Salazar/ Kansas.com McClatchyfsalazar@wichitaeagle.com
Pete Rose Jr., whose father is Major League Baseball's all-time leader in hits, is the new manager for the Wichita Wingnuts. Rose was introduced during a news conference at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium on Wednesday. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle/Feb McClatchytheying@wichitaeagle.com