Alou on brother Rojas: 'It was a matter of time'

January 25th, 2020

NEW YORK -- His name is not well known throughout Major League Baseball, but that’s OK. The Mets believe Luis Rojas is qualified to be the skipper of a team that has a chance to win the NL East title in 2020. The Mets introduced Rojas at a Friday afternoon press conference at Citi Field a week after they parted ways with Carlos Beltrán, who did not manage a single game.

There was Rojas on center stage -- cool, calm and collected as he spoke to the media in front of family seated in the front row. Missing were his father, former Major League manager Felipe Alou, and his half-brother, former big league slugger Moises Alou. They were the most influential people in Rojas’ life. Moises, who works for the Padres, was not surprised that his younger brother became a big league manager.

“It was a matter of time,” Alou said via telephone. “To me, he is a manager. That’s all you ask.”

Rojas, 38, has plenty of experience around Major League ballparks. As a kid, Rojas spent most of his summers with his father, who managed the Expos and Giants in the 1990s and early 2000s. Rojas was known to shag fly balls with his older brother and his teammates like Hall of Famer Larry Walker and Marquis Grissom.

“My dad would bring him for the summer and he would be talking baseball. He knew every player,” Moises said about Rojas.

Moises had a hand in Rojas’ development. As general manager of the Leonnes del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League, he gave Rojas his first managerial job -- it proved to be a great move. Rojas took the team to the postseason several times and won a championship during the 2015-16 season. How well did Rojas do? Moises acknowledged that he would take a breather once in a while, allowing Rojas to make roster moves, while he watched the team do its daily routine before games.

But listen to Rojas, he gives his brother credit for where he is today.

“We had a lot of baseball discussions just in order to improve the team. Some of those discussions helped me to get better,” Rojas said. “We were making decisions, evaluating players and collaborating with front offices.”

After years in the Dominican League and a decade as a Minor League manager in the Mets' organization, Rojas will lead a New York team that has a lot of talent, led by first baseman Pete Alonso and right-hander Jacob deGrom. Most of the players on the roster are familiar with Rojas. He managed a handful of them, including Alonso, in the Minor Leagues.

“He worked for this for so long. He has made it to the big leagues,” Moises said. “This kid has passion, knowledge. He loves talking about the game. … I knew he would be an asset to the team. He became my manager after being a coach for two or three years. I was very proud of him.”

The Mets seem to think that Rojas is ready for the big league job and to lead them to the postseason for the first time since 2016.

“It’s a proud day for the Mets' organization," said general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. "We get to promote one of our own to be the leader and the face of a Major League team."

Said Omar Minaya, the Mets' special assistant to the GM: “This team has talent. I think what [Rojas] is going to do is put everybody [in the best position to be successful]. They are going to believe in him. He is probably the first manager to manage in the Dominican Summer League to [do the same] in the big leagues. That’s a first. … He is real.”