Vogt, Quatraro’s managerial bond goes back to A ball

June 5th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Mandy Bell’s Guardians Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CLEVELAND — It’s 2007. Stephen Vogt is fresh off of being selected by the Devil Rays in the 12th round of the MLB Draft out of Azusa Pacific University. He’s ready to prove he belongs in professional baseball. He wants to learn how to get better. Naturally, his manager plays a significant role in developing that passion even more.

Luckily for Vogt, his first professional manager was Matt Quatraro.

Seventeen years later, the two sat in opposing dugouts at Progressive Field, managing against one another for the first time in their careers — something Vogt said he never could’ve imagined happening.

“He taught me everything I know — how to work and act like a professional,” Vogt said. “What it means to work, what it means to go out, hold your teammates accountable and hold yourself accountable to being the best you can be. Q embodied that as a manager, leader, person in every role he’s held. But I’m so fortunate that I got to start pro ball playing for somebody like Q.”

Vogt reminisced on those days, thinking back to the qualities that Quatraro had that Vogt admired. Along with professionalism, it was Quatraro’s stoicism that stood out. No matter what went wrong, he never showed a negative reaction, which Vogt is striving to replicate as a first-time skipper now. It was also important to Vogt that Quatraro always paid attention to the small details.

For example, Vogt remembered the last game of that 2007 campaign for Class A Short-Season Hudson Valley. He was hitting .303 and had already calculated that if he went 0-for-4 in that game, his average would drop below .300.

“He grabbed me before the game and said, ‘Just to let you know, I won’t let you go below .300. I’m gonna pull you if you’re 0-for-3,’” Vogt said. “I was like, ‘Ah you know …’ and he was like, ‘No, it’s really special.’

“At the time, he probably thought that was gonna be my only year in pro ball anyway,” Vogt joked.

Well, it happened. Vogt was 0-for-3 and was due to lead off the next inning.

“He hadn’t said a word to me yet,” Vogt remembered. “So I’m getting ready like, ‘Oh man, did he forget? Did he forget?’ Then last second before he ran to go coach third, he’s like, ‘You’re done Vogter.’ Just a special, special person.”

Vogt played for Quatraro again in 2008 for Class A Columbus before moving up to Class A Advanced Charlotte in ’09, but the relationship between the two carried on. Vogt was one of the first to call Quatraro after he got his managerial job with Kansas City. When it was Vogt’s turn to go through the interview process, he leaned on Quatraro to help him through it. Plus, it helped that Quatraro had a history in Cleveland, as he served as the assistant hitting coach from 2014-17.

During that time, Quatraro looked at Terry Francona as a mentor. Now, the current Guardians manager sees Quatraro in that same way.

“Putting myself in a mentor comment like Tito mentored, that’s not a fair comparison,” Quatraro said. “You’re talking about a guy that’s a Hall of Fame manager to somebody that managed Vogty in the New York-Penn League. So I don’t think that’s equal by any means.”

Although he refused to take the compliment, Quatraro was quick to explain how unsurprised he was that Vogt was now in this role. He remembers Vogt as the ultimate teammate, constantly making everyone laugh. Vogt was a good communicator, he was detail-orientated and he was able to relate to everyone in the room. Even 17 years ago, Quatraro knew that Vogt had a future as a manager.

But little did either of them know that they’d be managing against each other, competing for the top spot in the AL Central. And if two managers have to go toe-to-toe, there aren’t two people in the game who respect each other more than Vogt and Quatraro.

“From the day I met him, he’s been a tremendous person,” Quatraro said. “His successes are not surprising to me. … [He’s] of the guys that I’ve enjoyed being around the most as a Minor League coach.”