Detroit Tigers hire José Cruz Jr., a 12-year MLB veteran, as assistant hitting coach

Detroit Free Press

Evan Petzold
 
| Detroit Free Press

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Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch completed his coaching staff by adding former 12-year MLB veteran José Cruz Jr. as the assistant hitting coach, the team announced Tuesday night.

Cruz Jr., who played outfielder for nine different teams from 1997-2008, will work closely with lead hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh. The 2021 season will be the 46-year-old’s first as a major league coach.

“We’re excited to round out our Major League staff with the addition of José Cruz Jr.,” Hinch said in a statement. “He was widely respected as a player both on and off the field, and spending his entire life around the game has built a great ability to connect with both young and veteran players.”

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He is the son of former MLB outfielder Jose Cruz and the nephew of former MLB players Hector Cruz and Tommy Cruz. His son, Trei Cruz, was drafted from Rice University by the Tigers in the third round of the 2020 draft.

Cruz Jr.’s played for nearly 10 MLB teams: the Seattle Mariners (1997), Toronto Blue Jays (1997-2002), San Francisco Giants (2003), Tampa Bay Rays (2004), Arizona Diamondbacks (2005), Boston Red Sox (2005), Los Angeles Dodgers (2005-06), San Diego Padres (2007) and Houston Astros (2008).

Selected by the Mariners with the No. 3 overall pick in the 1995 draft, Cruz Jr. concluded his career with a .247 batting average, 204 home runs and 624 RBIs across 1,388 games. He was a Gold Glove Award winner in 2003. 

“We identified Jose as someone who would be a great fit for A.J. and his coaching staff and to work with our players at the Major League level,” general manager Al Avila said in a statement. “Jose comes from a well-respected, three-generation baseball family, and over the years I’ve watched him as a player and know him to be a leader both on the field and in the clubhouse. His background and knowledge of the game will be an asset to our ballclub.”

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Cruz Jr.’s father played for the St. Louis Cardinals (1970-74), Astros (1975-87) and New York Yankees (1988). He is a member of the Houston Astros Hall of Fame, and the organization — where Hinch managed from 2015-19 — retired his No. 25 jersey in 1992.

Here is the Tigers’ complete coaching staff for the 2021 season:

Manager: AJ Hinch

Bench coach: George Lombard

Hitting coach: Scott Coolbaugh

Assistant hitting coach: Jose Cruz Jr.

Pitching coach: Chris Fetter

Assistant pitching coach: Juan Nieves

First base coach: Ramon Santiago

Third base coach: Chip Hale

Quality control coach: Josh Paul

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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