The Colorado Rockies will be welcoming their major league pitchers and catchers to spring training in 23 days.
Roughly two weeks later, minor league players will report to the Scottsdale, Ariz., training facilities, and it's assumed by then the Rockies will have named their minor league field staffs.
But as of Thursday afternoon, Colorado was the lone MLB organization to not yet have named their managers, coaches or trainers for its six minor league affiliates, including the Modesto Nuts.
Rockies' general manager Bill Geivett referred all questions about minor league staffing to Jeff Bridich, the senior director of player development. Calls to Bridich have not been returned.
Reports have surfaced through the Internet and confirmed through baseball sources that Lenn Sakata will be returning for his second year at the Nuts' helm and will be joined by pitching coach Dave Burba and hitting coach Jon Stone.
Stone served as Modesto's hitting coach in 2012, while Burba, who pitched for 15 seasons with six major league teams, was the pitching coach with the Rockies' short season team in Tri-City.
What has been confirmed is that the Rockies are instituting what they hope will be a groundbreaking innovation in baseball's development process.
Starting with the 2013 season, Colorado will be placing a director of baseball operations with each of its minor league teams. The extra field staff member not only would act as an additional coach but also would help to ensure that the parent club's developmental philosophy is being followed.
The Modesto Bee has learned that Fred Nelson, a longtime Houston scout and director of player development, will be taking that position with the Nuts.
Nelson was in Denver on Thursday meeting with Rockies' minor league staff and could not be reached for comment.
Mike Gorrasi, Modesto Nuts' vice president and general manager, said the Rockies had yet to tell him who would be taking that position, but was aware the new role had been created.
"He'd be a person that sometimes would be in the dugout, sometimes in the stands as an eye in the sky," Gorrasi said. "It's another set of ears and eyes for the organization."
With an extra coach in place with every club, it is believed fewer roving instructors would be needed. In past seasons, one or more rovers was in Modesto for nearly every Nuts' homestand.
"I think they're cutting back on rovers," Gorrasi said. "They did mention to me (at the winter meetings) the rovers' visits wouldn't be as frequent. I think this move is more for consistency."
The Nuts open their 2013 season with a seven-game road trip April 4-10 through Inland Empire and Rancho Cucamonga.
Modesto's home opener is set for April 11 against Lancaster in a rematch of the 2012 California League Championship series.
For Nuts season and single-game tickets, call (209) 572-4487.