The Arizona Diamondbacks announced the following coaching additions to Manager Torey Lovullo’s staff, along with Jeff Bannister (bench coach), Mike Fetters (bullpen coach), Joe Mather (Major League hitting coach), Dave McKay (first base coach), Tony Perezchica (third base coach), Brent Strom (pitching coach) and Luis “Pipe” Urueta (coordinator, Major League player development & instruction):
Damion Easley – Assistant Major League Hitting Coach
· Spent 10 seasons in the San Diego Padres’ organization (2012-21), including the last 3 on the Major League staff as hitting coach (2020-21) and infield/assistant hitting coach (2019).
· Played 90 games with the D-backs in 2006.
Drew Hedman – Assistant Major League Hitting Coach/Director of Minor League Hitting
· Served as the D-backs’ run production coordinator from 2019-21 prior to his promotion to co-hitting coach in early June.
Rick Short – Assistant Major League Hitting Coach/Assistant Minor League Hitting Coordinator
· Began 2021 as hitting coach with Triple-A Reno before being elevated to Arizona’s co-hitting coach in early June.
Dan Carlson – Assistant Major League Pitching Coach/Minor League Pitching Coordinator
· Joins the Major League coaching staff after 20 seasons in the D-backs’ organization and the last 8 as the club’s Minor League pitching coordinator (2014-21).
· Made 2 relief appearances with Arizona in 1999.
Barry Enright – Assistant Major League Pitching Coach/Minor League Pitching Coordinator
· Served as a pitching coach in the D-backs’ system the last 3 seasons (2019 at Short-Season A Hillsboro, 2020 at Single-A Kane County and 2021 at Low-A Visalia) before his addition to the Major League staff.
· Started 24 games for Arizona from 2010-11 after being selected by the D-backs in 2007 draft.
Torey interrupted his vacation in Paris to address the media today to discuss the coaching staff positions that have been finalized.
How do you feel about the new hires ?
I was going to look for the best possible coaches, all star caliber coaches, 80 coaches. I wanted to shoot for the moon and give our players a chance to get the best teachers around them every single day…….I feel like we have filled it in as good as if not better than I had hoped.
All of the assistant positions have been filled by coaches who were already in the organization, with the exception of Damion Easley, who came over from the Padres organization.
I’ve been interviewing as many candidates as possible to make sure that we had the right guys and all along we had them sitting right in front of us. One came from the outside in Damion Easley. Once again we feel like we struck gold with him. He was the head hitting coach in San Diego..........And the others have been in the organization and it’s a group that I’m well aware of, and for the ones that I didn’t know such as Barry [Enright] I’ve heard great things about him , had a chance to sit down with him and have good baseball conversations. ......we’re all aligned to help the players get better and hold them accountable.
How will the time be divided between the MLB and the minors
It’s still very fluid, it’s something we haven’t finalized yet as far as timing. The reason we are doing this is to create some continuity between the major and minor league...........player development is the backbone of our organization. I want to make sure by rotating coaches between the majors and minors, even though it’s a new thought , some organizations have been doing it for the past couple of years.
NOTE EXAMPLE: At one point in time Short might be in the big leagues and Hedman will be rotating through the minors, and then they’ll flip, The same will be true for Carlson and Enright. But they haven’t gotten to that point of allocating the percentage of time.
How involved were Mather and Strom in choosing their assistants:
They were heavily involved in this decision making process. We spent a lot of time on the phone after interviewing candidates........it was a collective effort but Brent and Joe had a heavy hand in that process.
What is Pipe’s role as MLB player development and instruction coordinator ?
It used to be in years past when you got to AAA you tightened up all of your skills and by the time you got to the big leagues you better have it figured out, and if you didn’t, you got sent out. That’s not the case anymore. You can see some of the patience we’ve had with some of our players and it’s paying off handsomely. We want to shorten that gap.
NOTE: Listen to the audio for fuller details how he’ll coordinate with the other coaches to oversee coaching and development. Pipe will also be running camp, which he used to do together with Robbie Hammock. So setting up all the schedules, and organizing the workouts.
Does this type of setup make it more challenging to balance the need for getting everyone singing from the same song sheet vs. individualizing coaching based on player needs and skillsets ?
We’ve brought this question up a lot. We seem to think it’s going to help out, to the contrary. If one coach is trying to fit a round peg into a square hole the second coach could probably say look , he’s having a tough time getting his wrist over the baseball , he may permanently be a sinker slider guy, or we may need to cut that fastball instead of working on a slider...etc, We feel like the more eyes we have on those guys the better off we’ll be in making those evaluations. Now the tricky part is and I think what you’re talking about does that message get mixed up and confuse the players. That is something that I don’t stand for. I don’t believe in confusing players , I believe in a very crystal clear direct message , and that’s what I feel like the leaders of each domain are very good at. I know Brent Strom is unbelievable at driving home messages and I think Brent is going to be as flexible as any one of our coaches, as will Joe. They’re going to find out what works for a guy and go get it. .......It’s a very valid point. There is some danger in it. But as long as we don’t confuse that message and create uncertainty in the players mind I think we’re going to be in a good spot.
With the lockout looming are you getting out in front in communicating off season workout plans with players:
Torey’s audio glitched out midway through his answer but the gist was that he asked the coaches to get out in front with communicating to the players what they need, but once the lockout happens there can be no communication at all.