Mets Announce 2013 Minor League Coaching Staffs
Wally Backman will return as manager for the Mets Triple-A affiliate for the 2013 season. Backman will begin his first season as manager of Las Vegas and was named the 22nd manager in the history of the Las Vegas franchise. The coaching staff will include Randy St. Claire as pitching coach and George Greer will return for his second season as hitting coach.
Backman, 53, guided Triple-A Buffalo of the International League to a 67-76 (.469) record in his inaugural Triple-A season in 2012. He will enter his second season as manager on the Triple-A level and his fourth season with the Mets organization since his playing days. He has compiled a 10-year minor league managerial record of 601-564 (.516) in the Chicago White Sox, Arizona and New York Mets organizations from 2001-2012.
St. Claire enters his first season as the pitching coach at Triple-A Las Vegas and also enters his inaugural season with the Mets organization. He spent three seasons as the pitching coach for the Miami Marlins (2010-2012) after six-plus seasons as pitching coach for the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals.
Greer will enter his eighth season overall in the Mets organization, his second season as the hitting instructor for the Mets Triple-A affiliate (2012 with Triple-A Buffalo) and his first season with the 51s. He previously served as the hitting instructor for Single-A St. Lucie of the Florida State League for three seasons (2009-11). He also served in the same capacity with Rookie-level Kingsport of the Appalachian League in 2007 and Single-A Savannah of the South Atlantic League in 2008. He joined the Mets organization in 2006 as the manager of the Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York-Penn League.
The New York Mets announced that all five members of the Binghamton Mets field staff from last season, led by manager Pedro Lopez, will return to guide the club in 2013. Lopez, 43, will be joined by hitting coach Luis Natera and pitching coach Glenn Abbott. Athletic trainer Matt Hunter and strength & conditioning coach Dustin Clarke round out the staff.
Managing at the Double-A level for the first time, Lopez steered the 2012 Binghamton Mets to a 68-74 record. The Puerto Rico native also celebrated his 500th managerial win on September 2 when the B-Mets defeated the Trenton Thunder at NYSEG Stadium. Lopez has steadily climbed the Mets’ minor league managerial ladder; compiling winning records at each stop leading to Binghamton. His journey began with the Kingsport Mets in 2008, the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2009 where he finished second with a 45-30 record, the Savannah Sand Gnats in 2010 who went 75-64, and the St. Lucie Mets in 2011, going 18-3 to start the season en route to the Division crown.
Entering his third season in the New York Mets’ organization, Abbott returns to the Southern Tier for his second year as pitching coach. Prior to his time with the Mets, Abbott was a pitching coach for five years in the San Diego Padres’ system, spent four seasons with the Texas Rangers’ organization and logged 13 years at various levels with the Oakland Athletics. The Arkansas native began his coaching career with the Little Falls Mets in 1985.
Luis Natera will serve as the B-Mets hitting coach for the sixth straight season and seventh overall. This year marks Natera’s 22nd in the Mets’ organization. He has served as a hitting coach at five different levels during that timeframe, including stints with Buffalo (AAA, 2009), St. Lucie (High-A, 2007), Hagerstown (Low-A, 2005-06), Kingsport (Rookie, 2003-04), and Capital City (Low-A, 1999). Natera served in his native country as coordinator of the Mets’ Dominican Academy in 2001 and 2002. He managed the Dominican Mets (Rookie) in 2002 and skippered the DSL Mets from 1992-1997.
The St. Lucie Mets have announced that Ryan Ellis will return as manager and is joined for the second consecutive season by pitching coach Phil Regan and hitting coach Benny Distefano.
Ellis begins his second season as the team’s manager. He was named Florida State League Manager of the Year in 2012 as the Mets finished with the most wins in team history at 83-52. Ellis guided the Mets to the First Half South Division Championship. The 49 wins were the most in any half of a season for the Mets.
Veteran pitching coach Phil Regan enters his fifth season with the St. Lucie Mets. Regan was the pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians in 1999 and served in the same role for the Chicago Cubs in 1997 and 1998. He also was the pitching coach for Team USA during the 2000 Olympics. Regan managed the Baltimore Orioles to a 71-73 record during the strike-shortened 1995 season.
Benny Distefano is back for his second stint as St. Lucie Mets hitting coach. Distefano is in his fourth season with the Mets organization, previously serving as hitting coach with the Savannah Sand Gants in 2011 and the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2010.
The Savannah Sand Gnats will also bring back last years coaching staff for the 2013 season. Manager Luis Rojas, pitching coach Frank Viola and coach Joel Fuentes led the single-A Gnats to a 69-67 record last season, finishing fifth overall in the 14-team South Atlantic League. Savannah narrowly missed the first half pennant with a 41-26 record (-4.5).
Luis Rojas is entering his eighth year with the New York Mets. He continues his successful baseball career as a third-year manager, which means good things for the Sand Gnats and the rest of the Mets organization.
Frank Viola found his niche as a pitching coach for the Brooklyn (A) of the New York-Penn league in 2011 after previously managing and coaching at the collegiate and high school levels, respectively. His pitchers boasted a 3.33 ERA in the 2012 season, which finished in the top spot in the South Atlantic League. Savannah also had a league best ERA in 2011 (3.26) and has been in the top two in each of the last four seasons.
Joel Fuentes begins his seventh year with the Mets organization. This will be his third year as a coach with the Sand Gnats. He began his coaching career in 2007 in Savannah, but joined the St. Lucie Mets staff in 2008. He spent 2009 and 2010 coaching in New York for the Brooklyn Cyclones and returned to St. Lucie in 2011.
About the Author: Joe DeCaro
I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.
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