Detroit Tigers assistant hitting coach Jose Cruz Jr. reportedly to coach Rice baseball

Detroit Free Press

After 60 games with the Detroit Tigers, assistant hitting coach Jose Cruz Jr. is returning to Rice University.

He will be named the baseball team’s next head coach, according to a report from Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston. Baseball America was the first report Rice was closing in on hiring Cruz as the program’s next head coach.

Tigers manager AJ Hinch confirmed Cruz, 47, has been in conversations with Rice about returning to college baseball. But Hinch did not say whether Cruz has accepted the head coaching position. Hinch recently spoke to Rice athletic director Joe Karlgaard.

“He’s been engaged in their process,” Hinch said Wednesday. He’s a huge alum there. He’s uber talented to do a lot of different things. It’s not a surprise to me that people came calling about him. Their process is pretty deep. Obviously, he’s a huge candidate and a very popular one. But it’s their timeline in which they’re going to discuss to finalize things with Jose or go in a different direction.”

THE CRUZ FAMILY: Tigers prospect Trei Cruz leans on dad, grandpa to add to family’s baseball legacy

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

Cruz attended Rice from 1992-95 and was a three-time All-American outfielder. After being selected by the Seattle Mariners with the No. 3 overall pick in the 1995 draft, Cruz played 12 seasons in the major leagues for nine teams.

His father is Jose Cruz, who played 19 years in the big leagues, and his son is Trei Cruz, a 22-year-old infield prospect for the Tigers. Trei Cruz played baseball for Rice, as well, from 2018-20 before getting selected in the third round of the 2020 draft.

Hinch hired Cruz Jr. on Dec. 8. His gig with the Tigers was his first opportunity as a coach, after retiring from his playing career in 2008.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter

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