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Rowand could have a future in managing

Former White Sox center fielder enjoyed role as AFL skipper
MLB.com @scottmerkin

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There was a time when running into a wall or sacrificing life and limb to make a play for his team seemed almost second nature to Aaron Rowand.

The All-Star center fielder and spirt of the iconic Grinder Rules from the 2005 White Sox World Series champions remains equally as dedicated to his craft, even after his playing days have come to a close. But instead of chasing down long fly balls on a particular sunny Arizona afternoon back in October, Rowand invites a guest into his office as he gets a jump on his paperwork for the week.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There was a time when running into a wall or sacrificing life and limb to make a play for his team seemed almost second nature to Aaron Rowand.

The All-Star center fielder and spirt of the iconic Grinder Rules from the 2005 White Sox World Series champions remains equally as dedicated to his craft, even after his playing days have come to a close. But instead of chasing down long fly balls on a particular sunny Arizona afternoon back in October, Rowand invites a guest into his office as he gets a jump on his paperwork for the week.

That routine became one of many points of responsibility during Rowand's first foray into managing when he ran the Glendale Desert Dogs in the 2016 Arizona Fall League.

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"It was fun," said Rowand, during a recent interview at White Sox Spring Training, where he has returned to his in-season job as Minor League outfield/baserunning coordinator. "It was a really good learning experience.

"As far as the game part of it, that comes naturally. But managing people, it's a different thing, and I really enjoy it and had fun. I'm pretty sure if you ask the guys on the team, they all had a good time, too, because I like to have a good time."

Every manager has a different style, with Rowand citing Ozzie Guillen and Charlie Manuel as the managers he would have done anything for and fostering the greatest personal influence. Rowand also has the personality to get along with anyone, while demanding a high level of expectation.

"Not one way is the right way," said Rowand of managing. "The right way is if you can get through to them and push your players to be the best they can be."

"He played the game the right way," said White Sox pitcher James Shields, who also is Rowand's cousin. "His knowledge of the game is second to none. You have to be an outgoing person. You have to be a guy who understands the game. You have to be a guy who relates to every individual separately. And he does that very well."

Shields knows Rowand's leadership and guidance beyond their family bond. He worked out with Rowand in Las Vegas in previous offseasons, and Rowand pushed the right-hander toward the success he has achieved.

"I was a young player, and I needed that drive and self-motivation," Shields said. "Hearing from players in the Minor Leagues this last year coming up to the big leagues in September, I asked how he was down there, and they loved him. The fact that he's able to relate to guys on that player level is definitely a good thing."

Managing could be a future job for Rowand, just as Willie Harris from the 2005 team has taken on the role this season for Class A Winston-Salem. For now, Rowand will process and treasure the AFL experience and stick with all he has.

"With my [two] kids at home, it's nice to be able to go back and be there for some of the important things they have going on in their lives right now," Rowand said. "But I wouldn't say, 'No, I wouldn't want to [manage] sometime in the future.' I really did enjoy it."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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