Tigers’ new enhanced coaching staff is diverse and development-centric

Detroit News

San Diego — This coaching staff AJ Hinch continues to assemble isn’t quite as large as a typical NFL staff, but it’s getting there.

With one spot still likely to be filled, the 2023 Tigers will have a coaching staff that features a three-man hitting department and a three-man pitching department, as well as the conventional bench and base coaches.

“Diversity was a major priority for us, and not just in the traditional sense of the word,” Tigers president Scott Harris said Monday night. “We have talked a lot about meeting players where they are, not where we want them to be. We want to meet them in their own language, with their own preferred means of communication, meet them with their own culture cues and their own humor.

“We want to create a comfortable environment to be coached.”

Returning from last season are bench coach and outfield coach George Lombard, pitching coach Chris Fetter, assistant pitching coach Juan Nieves and base coaches Alfredo Amezaga (who will coach first base and the infielders) and Gary Jones (who will coach third base and coordinate outfield positioning).

The new hitting department is Michael Brdar (former University of Michigan shortstop and San Diego Padres hitting coach) and Keith Beauregard (minor-league hitting instructor in the Dodgers system for the last four years), and assistant hitting coach James Rowson (former Twins hitting coach).

Joining Fetter and Nieves in the pitching department is former University of Iowa pitching coach and longtime college professor Robin Lund.

“One of our goals in building these departments was to be able to reach the players where they are at with different voices, different perspectives, different expertise,” Hinch said. “How it will function will be different than how you’d think.”

It’s not like they will divvy the hitters up amongst the three coaches. It’s not like one is a data coach, one runs the cage drills and one troubleshoots. It will be kind of like the way Astros manager Dusty Baker explained his coaching staff when asked about it on Monday.

“Our staff is like going to the library,” he said. “I know you guys ain’t been to the library probably in about 40 years (laughter). But you just have to know where you look when you go to the library because it’s all there. And my staff is like going to the library.”

Whatever tool needed — instructional, mechanical, analytical, emotional — will be at the players’ disposal.

Rowson is in his 40s. Brdar and Beauregard are younger and come from developmental backgrounds. Lund, as Hinch said, is a professional teacher. His primary area of expertise is biomechanics. Nieves has formed a strong bond with the Latin pitchers. There is a wealth of expertise here, available in different packages.

“We have tried to convince the players we are pursuing that you can come to Detroit and be surrounded by the resources and staff that are going to help you take the next step in your development, no matter where you are in your career,” Harris said.

“If you’re a young player coming up, or if you’re a veteran who has been in five different places, you can come to Detroit and work with, you know, Robin, Fett and Juan or work with Brdar, Keith and J-Ro, and they’re going to have excellent content for you and they’re going to be in the trenches with you every day for 162 to help you get better.”

The last piece of this puzzle will likely be a replacement for quality control coach Josh Paul, whose contract was not renewed.

Jim Schmakel reassigned

New front office. New scouting department. New medical and training department. New coaching staff. New roster (eventually).

These are transformative times for the Tigers and, turns out, not even the clubhouse could escape a serious shakeup.

For the first time since 1978, Jim Schmakel will not be in charge of the Tigers’ clubhouse. The club’s equipment manager for 13 different managers — Les Moss to Hinch — has been reassigned to the visitors’ clubhouse at Comerica Park.

Dan Ross, who has run the visitors’ clubhouse, is the Tigers’ new equipment manager and clubhouse boss. Mark Cave, Schmakel’s assistant since 1999, will remain the assistant equipment manager.

Agent Willie

Former Tigers reliever Alex Wilson has been omnipresent here at the Winter Meetings.

He’s a player agent now with the Ballengee Group and he’s been meeting with multiple teams on behalf of several of his clients, both draft-year high school and college players and professional players. Most notably, he’s trying to find a team for one of his Tigers teammates — reliever Shane Greene.

Greene, 34, pitched for the Tigers from 2015 to 2019 and was an All-Star in 2019. He spent most of 2022 in Triple-A. He pitched a game each for the Dodgers and Yankees.

Twitter@cmccosky

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