BILLINGS - Jim Riggleman admits he's been spoiled.
The five-time Major League Baseball manager arrived in Billings this week for his first stint managing the Pioneer League's Mustangs who play their season-opener Wednesday in Missoula.
"I tell you Scott, it's been the most work I've put in for baseball in any job I've ever had," Riggleman told MTN Sports after a team workout.
That's saying something for a guy who's managed MLB's Padres, Cubs, Mariners, Nationals and Reds. Those jobs are highest on baseball's mountain top, but Riggleman now knows he's in for a whole new ballgame.
"I have such respect now for Independent League managers," he said. "As I've been spoiled in affiliated ball, or minor leagues or major leagues, we felt like we were working hard, but it was all out there on the field."
Now it's a lot more behind the scenes work, primarily chasing players to build his Mustangs roster.
"A lot of phone, email, texts, follow-up, contracts. Getting here (to Billings) is almost anticlimactic because I've been putting in so much work the last three months."
Billings native Jalen Garcia, last season's Pioneer League Rookie of the Year, has been in regular contact with Riggleman during that time frame to re-sign with the Mustangs. Though at first, Garcia didn't know much about the manager's credentials.
"I didn't, but when I looked this guy up I was like, oh my goodness, this guy is a stud," Garcia said.
The Mustangs now need to evaluate players in a hurry. They have exhibition games set up Friday, Saturday and Sunday (times TBD) — a free chance for the public to watch what Riggleman and his staff are seeing.
"We really need those games to evaluate our players because unfortunately we'll have to let a few go," he said. "We'd like to make a good evaluation, so that means we'd like to see them in some game situations."