D-backs name four to fill out coaching staff
Trammell, Baylor, Nagy, Young to serve under skipper Gibson
General manager Kevin Towers said that building a coaching staff is like putting together a puzzle, and he likes the look of the one he and manager Kirk Gibson have pieced together in Arizona.
Towers and Gibson on Tuesday confirmed the hirings of Alan Trammell as bench coach, Don Baylor as hitting coach, Charles Nagy as pitching coach and Eric Young as first-base coach. They join holdovers Matt Williams, who moves from first-base coach to third-base coach, and bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock. Towers said a Latin-speaking coach will be promoted from the D-backs Minor League system, but that hasn't been finalized.
"We can start focusing on reassembling the club," said Towers. "We've added to the staff a lot of experience, both managerial and with highly successful Major League players. I like how it all fits."
Trammell, who replaces Bo Porter, was bench coach for the Cubs for four years and managed the Tigers for three seasons when Gibson was his bench coach. More importantly, as a player fixture for the Tigers for 20 seasons from 1977 through 1996, he was a teammate of Gibson's and an influence on Towers.
"He's one of my better friends and I talk more baseball with Alan Trammell than anybody in the game," said Gibson. "We share a belief and a philosophy. We were taught the same way in Detroit through Sparky [Anderson]. He's a very trusted friend, a great competitor with high standards. People might have taken for granted that he'd be on the staff, but I wanted to make sure he was hired for the right reasons, and we interviewed several others."
Towers said he was impressed by Trammell when Towers was a free-agent player working out during an offseason program in San Diego.
"[Trammell] was the only big league player there, and he was the first one there and the last to leave," said Towers. "If this was what the Detroit Tigers were all about, it was the type of organization I wanted to be with. He made a huge impression on me. He has a great baseball mind, he'll help our middle infielders and he'll be a sounding board during games."
Baylor served as hitting coach for the Rockies in 2009 and 2010 and was dismissed earlier this month, even though the Rockies finished third in runs scored in the National League. He replaces Jack Howell, who was dismissed by the D-backs at the end of the 2010 season. One of the first tasks for Baylor will be to reduce strikeouts. The D-backs set a Major League record with 1,529 K's in '10, smashing the previous mark of 1,399, set by the 2001 Milwaukee Brewers.
"I wouldn't be surprised if our guys get hit [by pitches] a few times. We'll take away home plate," Towers said, a reference to Baylor getting hit by pitches 267 times in his career. "We'll have an approach, preparation and I hope we have a better plan of attack.
"Hitting coaches are hard to find. When I was in San Diego, I would have grabbed him in a minute, but he was never available. He shot right to the top when he became available. With his presence, his experience, his results, I'm very excited."
Baylor played 19 seasons in the big leagues and was the American League's Most Valuable Player in 1979. He managed the Rockies from 1993-98 and the Cubs from 2000-02. He has spent seven seasons as a batting coach with the Brewers (1990-91), Cardinals (1992), Braves (1999), Mariners (2005) and Rockies (2009-10) and was also bench coach for the Mets in 2003-04.
By contrast, Nagy hasn't coached in the Major Leagues, having served as pitching coach for Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate in Columbus this year after a 14-year career as a Major League pitcher. He replaces Mel Stottlemyre Jr., who was dismissed following this season. Nagy inherits a bullpen with a 5.74 ERA, worst in the Majors, but also a promising starting staff of Joe Saunders, Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, along with Barry Enright.
Gibson said he had limited interaction with Nagy previously, but was won over by his interview.
"He surprised me," Gibson said. "I'd ask my first question, and he's giving answers to my first three questions. We had similar thoughts on things. I try to challenge people, and he was calm and collected. Experience-wise, I know he's limited. On the upside, he's at the top of the list. I'm confident where he'll take our staff."
The hiring of the 43-year-old Young was reported last week. He served as a roving Minor League instructor for the Houston Astros this past season, focusing on outfield play and baserunning, and was an in-studio analyst on ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" from 2007-09. His Major League career spanned 1992-2006 with seven teams, playing for Towers in San Diego and for Baylor in Colorado.