In their first 21 seasons, the Sioux City Explorers have had just six managers. The X's were looking for a new skipper after Stan Cliburn was let go after two straight losing seasons and off-the-field problems.
39-year-old Steve Montgomery was introduced as the new X's manager on Wednesday. Montgomery was a minor league pitcher for nine seasons before becoming the pitching coach for one of the X's long-time rivals in Fargo-Moorhead. Over the past ten years, Montgomery helped the RedHawks make the playoffs nine times. He wants to bring that winning tradition to Lewis and Clark Park.
"I've learned from the best," said Montgomery. "I hope to take those type of players and get them into Sioux City Explorers uniforms. There's a certain we look for and I'm sure we're going to go to battle over those players. I'm confident I can bring them to Sioux City."
"This is a huge hire for the Sioux City Explorers," said X's GM/VP Shane Tritz. "It's someone I'm proud to bring to my hometown, being raised in Sioux City. I'm putting my name on an individual that I want to bring into my hometown and bring to the fans here in Sioux City."
Montgomery says he will focus on having a strong five-man pitching rotation with the X's and wants some big bats in the middle of the order.
In his career, he also worked as a pitching coach for five seasons at North Dakota State. He feels that college experience will help him recruit players to Sioux City.
"You have to get to know that guy, know what he wants and then it's a sales pitch. It's an absolute sales pitch," said Montgomery.
"Independent baseball's about winning," said Tritz. "Independent baseball's about recruiting talent. That's where it starts, the recruiting process."
"I want to move players," added Montgomery. "I want to get players in here and I want them to have a chance back with an MLB organization."
Montgomery has his work cut out for him. Entering their 22nd season, the X's are still looking for their first league championship. Sioux City has made the playoffs just four times -- the last two postseason appearances came in '02 under manager Benny Castillo and in '08 under Les Lancaster.
Last summer the X's went 38-62 for the third-lowest winning percentage in team history. The season opener is May 15th and the home opener is May 17th.
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