Climbing the coaching ladder - Albuquerque Journal

Climbing the coaching ladder

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

T.J. Zarewicz, past manager of the Santa Fe Fuego, is heading to the Atlantic League. (Courtesy of T.J. Zarewicz)

Like the rest of us, the Santa Fe Fuego of the Pecos League are playing a waiting game.

But no matter when, or even if, the Fuego get to play ball, the team will have a new look.

Manager T.J. Zarewicz, who has been the face of the franchise for the better part of four years, is off to greener pastures after guiding Santa Fe to a 93-85 record.

He was recently named hitting coach for the Atlantic League’s Road Warriors.

The league is generally considered one of the highest of the independent leagues and has been around since 1998.

“It definitely is seen as the top level of independent ball,” Zarewicz said. “There’s a mix of players in this league that have a serious talent level. These teams carry very talented guys from all over the world. A lot of the players even have Major League experience, up to 40%.”

So, for Zarewicz, it’s a logical progression in climbing up the baseball ladder.

“It’s an opportunity to work with elite baseball players,” he said. “And do whatever is necessary to help the team.”

This was the type of move Zarewicz wanted to make after the Fuego season ended last year.

He moved on to San Rafeal, California, for a team in the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs, just generally helping out any way he could.

The manager there, Oscar Suarez, then helped pave the way for him to move into the Atlantic League.

“To me, I kind of had an idea, I had a goal,” Zarewicz said. “By basically leaving a stepping stone like Santa Fe to search for other opportunities.”

But the time in Santa Fe was invaluable, he said, after starting out as a player, then moving into the manager’s role.

“There are a lot of different things I learned,” Zarewicz said. “I spent four years there. From the get go, I saw it as an opportunity to learn and grow with the game of baseball.”

Especially after putting on the manager’s cap for the past three seasons.

“Ever since taking over as manager, it was opportunity to learn how to reach an individual player on an individual level,” Zarewicz said. “Having to get along with 25 guys, you have to reach each guy differently at the professional level. It’s not a cookie-cutter type of program. Each guy has something they do well. Most importantly, I learned how to work with players on an individual level.”

He also learned how to cull the baseball grapevine for players and opportunities.

“There are numerous things you could take away from managing at this level,” Zarewicz said. “Networking would have to be up there. I was really working to grow a network of baseball people by calling coaches, calling former pro players, calling guys that coached at a high level. I was able to learn more about baseball and learn how these things work.”

Then there is dealing with the realities of managing at the lower rungs of baseball.

“I’ve learned how to do field work. I learned how to coordinate anything around the field that needs to get done,” Zarewicz said with a chuckle. “You just try to make it happen as best you can. I had to do things like writing the lineup, worrying about the bullpen, worrying about the pinch hitters, worrying about guys who are injured.”

Even things off the field fell into his bailiwick.

“At times, I had to set up players with host families,” Zarewicz said. “Coordination of host families is huge and it is very challenging. I appreciate anybody that ever has anything to do with host family situations and housing itself. Host families are one of the reasons why independent baseball works.”

The ultimate goal is to land with a Minor League team that is affiliated with the big leagues, he said.

“I would love to be with an affiliated team in an on-field capacity,” Zarewicz said. “Somewhere in an affiliate club, working with players, maybe managing potentially. I would love to manage again. I want to stick it out and get in an affiliated system. I believe I can take the work load and information I’ve assembled over the years, and make it.”

At 29, he still has time to make it work out.

“For me, it’s more of a short-term versus a long-term,” Zarewicz said. “I don’t put a necessarily long-term set on it. If you can get in an affiliated system, you have the opportunity to prove your skill set. As a coach or as someone with player development, you don’t just go straight to the big leagues. There is a growth curve.”

Home » Entertainment » Arts » Climbing the coaching ladder

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
'Truth or Consequences' ranks as one of the best ...
ABQnews Seeker
It's the summer of 1970 and ... It's the summer of 1970 and Daniel Asa Rose and Tony Wilson, both 20 years old and best friends since sixth grade, are about ...
Wine and secrets get spilled in the comedy 'Drinking ...
ABQnews Seeker
"Drinking Habits" opens at Adobe Theater ... "Drinking Habits" opens at Adobe Theater on June 2, running on weekends through June 25.
Photographer, author Chris Rainier to bring 'Cultures on the ...
ABQnews Seeker
Photographer and author Chris Rainier presents ... Photographer and author Chris Rainier presents "Cultures on the Edge: A Journey into Indigenous Ways of Being" at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.
National Theatre Live production 'Best of Enemies' to be ...
ABQnews Seeker
"Best of Enemies" was the winner ... "Best of Enemies" was the winner of the 2022 Critics' Circle Award for Best New Play and nominated for the 2022 Olivier Award for ...
Mysterious garden holes are the traps of antlions
ABQnews Seeker
At this stage of life they ... At this stage of life they create those perfect round holes which are actually traps for unsuspecting ground crawling insects.
The Met Live comes to the Lensic with 'The ...
ABQnews Seeker
Opera fans can head to the ... Opera fans can head to the Lensic Performing Arts Center for "The Met Live in HD: Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)" at 11 a.m. ...
Bond House Museum to showcase Santa Fe Opera props, ...
ABQnews Seeker
The exhibition represents a collaboration between ... The exhibition represents a collaboration between the opera and the San Gabriel Historical Society and the Española Valley Opera Guild.
'The Nature of Glass' explores the medium through a ...
ABQnews Seeker
"The Nature of Glass" focuses on ... "The Nature of Glass" focuses on 28 contemporary works by such household names as Judy Chicago, Georgia O'Keeffe and Preston Singletary.
Elsa Menendez, Arts & Culture deputy director, shares pieces ...
ABQnews Seeker
Elsa Menendez picked five of the ... Elsa Menendez picked five of the city's recently installed Public Art pieces.