Tigers’ Hale named head coach at Arizona

Detroit Tigers

In yet another testament to manager A.J. Hinch’s hiring decision when he came to Detroit, the Tigers announced Monday that third-base coach Chip Hale had accepted a job as head coach at his alma mater, the University of Arizona.

“If you want to be a head coach in college, come on board, we’re going to find a spot for you,” Hinch joked. “Coaches are going to get taken from you from time to time, whenever you hire good people. These have been a couple of sort of quick ascents to the top job, and well deserved, and I’m very happy for him.”

“I am very honored and excited to be the new head baseball coach at the University of Arizona,” Hale said in a statement. “We will work tirelessly to build on the success that has been established here and continue to coach and develop our Wildcats to be champions on the field and in the classroom. With the help and support of the University of Arizona and the Wildcat Family, we plan on making many trips to Omaha!”

But what does this mean for the Tigers? In the near future, Hale will remain with the Tigers for Monday’s series opener against the Rangers in Arlington, as the college plans to officially introduce him on Wednesday. Hinch said bench coach George Lombard will man third base beginning Tuesday. While Detroit promoted Triple-A Toledo hitting coach Mike Hessman to fill Cruz’s spot, Hinch said there are no immediate plans to fill Hale’s spot.

“Maybe, maybe not,” Hinch said. “Obviously, we’ve got a good staff and a good group and [general manager Al Avila] and I are going to talk about what might be needed.

“I think George going to third base is actually a huge advantage for us in terms of being able to seamlessly transition some of the baserunning, some of the end-game stuff. His experience and communication skills will pay dividends there, so I want to take a look at this issue first before we make any more commitments on what we’re going to do.”

The 56-year-old Hale played baseball for the Wildcats from 1984-87, winning a College World Series with them in 1986. He remains the program’s all-time leader in games played (255), hits (337), total bases (507), sacrifice flies (21) and walks (162).

Hale kept ties to the area, serving as the D-backs’ manager from 2015-16 after spending six seasons in the organization as a Minor League manager. He was also the D-backs third-base coach from 2007-09, the last year marking Hinch’s first year as the D-backs’ manager.

Hale will replace Jay Johnson, who accepted the head-coaching position at LSU.

“[Arizona] is getting a winner,” Hinch said. “[Hale] has won at every level. … He’s a winner, and he will be prepared, he will work with the kids and develop a great identity for that university. He’s got a great passion for that play. He talks about it as much as he talks about his Major League career as a coach and a player, so they’re getting a baseball guy with a ton of passion for the community.”

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