Source: Mark Grace will become #Dbacks assistant hitting coach. Appears Turner Ward remains hitting coach. Blanco shifting to new role.— Steve Gilbert (@SteveGilbertMLB) October 16, 2014
Grace's time with the Diamondbacks has had its share of ups and downs. After 13 seasons playing for the Cubs, he only spent three years in Arizona, appearing in 335 games and hitting .268 with 25 home-runs. But his first season here, he was part of the team which won a World Series in 2001, including a home-run in Game 4. Perhaps his most memorable moment came the following season, when he worked a inning of relief in a 19-1 blowout against the Dodgers at Bank One Ballpark, which included an imitation of teammate Mike Fetters.
After retiring at the end of 2003, Grace moved to the commentary booth, and became a regular part of the Diamondbacks' broadcasts, paired first with Thom Brennaman, from 2004-2006, and then with Daron Sutton, as well as doing work on Fox's national broadcasts. But as early as August 2005, he was the source of controversy, after "technical difficulties" resulted in Grace's microphone being left open, resulting in a steam of expletives - mostly directed at then-catcher Chris Snyder - being broadcast over the airwaves.
His main problems were legal, however, with a pair of convictions for drunk driving. The first came in May 2011, and resulted in Grace's license being suspended, and an ignition interlock device being required for his car. But barely a year later, on August 23, 2012, he was arrested again, requesting an indefinite leave of absence from the booth the next day. This time, he was charged with four felony counts, not just of DUI, but also driving while suspended and without the required interlock. In January 2013, he was sentenced to four months in prison and three years supervised probation: he served his time in Tent City, getting work release to coach minor-leaguers at Salt River.
The team stood by Grace, and he said: "Thank God for the Diamondbacks. I owe these guys. From Derrick Hall and Ken Kendrick to all the player development people that gave me the opportunity to do this." He spent the rest of the summer continuing his work as hitting coach in extended spring training and in the Arizona Rookie League, before being promoted this season to Hillsboro, where he filled the same position for the Hops. Now, it appears, his rehabilitation is complete, with Grace back in the major-league dugout. He has often expressed interest in becoming a major-league manager at some point, and it'll be interesting to see what he brings to the team in 2015.
Grace was mentioned as a candidate for the position before this year, but it went to Blanco instead after he lost out on the backup to Miguel Montero. It will also be interesting to see what the team does with our former catcher. He will apparently be moved sideways - I'm just speculating, but perhaps a managerial position in the minor-league system? Blanco is spending the winter in Venezuela, managing the Margarita Braves there, so it would seem a logical progression for him. I don't recall hearing very much, good, bad or indifferent, about Blanco after her took the position as assistant to Ward, at the end of spring training.