Diamondbacks Announce Rest of Coaching Staff for 2022
PHOENIX, Nov. 30 — An active off-season Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff overhaul culminated with five staff hirings Tuesday morning.
The New Members of the Diamondbacks Coaching Staff
New Hitting Coaches
The hitting staff hired three of the five. One was a new face, while the other two were with the team in 2021. The new face is Damion Easley, who will be the Assistant Major League Hitting Coach. Easley, a retired major league infielder, played 90 games with the Diamondbacks in 2006. As a coach, he was in the San Diego Padres’ organization for 10 seasons. Beginning in 2019, he was on the major league staff as the infield/assistant hitting coach (2019) and hitting coach (2020-21).
The two returning faces are Drew Hedman and Rick Short. Hedman was the run production coordinator from 2019-June 2021, while Short was the hitting coach for the Triple-A Reno Aces in May and June 2021. When the Diamondbacks dismissed Darnell Coles and Eric Hinske from their roles as hitting coach and assistant hitting coach, respectively, Hedman and Short became the co-hitting coaches.
For 2022, Hedman and Short will be “hybrid” coaches. Hedman carry the title of Assistant Major League Hitting Coach and Director of Minor League Hitting. Short’s role will be Assistant Major League Hitting Coach and Assistant Minor League Hitting Coordinator. They will answer to new major league hitting coach Joe Mather, whom the Diamondbacks hired in October.
New Pitching Coaches
The other two new hires from Tuesday will assist with the pitchers. Both will also be hybrid coaches, officially called Assistant Major League Pitching Coach/Minor League Pitching Coordinator. One is Dan Carlson, and the other is Barry Enright. Both played for the Diamondbacks in their careers, Carlson in 1999 and Enright in 2010-11.
They also were promoted from within the Diamondbacks’ minor league coaching staff. Carlson has spent the last eight seasons as the Minor League Pitching Coordinator, while Enright has been the pitching coach for Short-Season A Hillsboro (2019), Single-A Kane County (2020), and Low-A Visalia (2021). Carlson and Enright will join new pitching coach Brent Strom and returning bullpen coach Mike Fetters.
Diamondbacks Coaching Staff Embraces “Hybrid” Coaches
Manager Torey Lovullo told reporters via Zoom that the goal of having hybrid coaches is “continuity” between the major and minor leagues. “That’s important,” he said. “We have really good young players inside of our system. They’re getting ready to emerge. Player development is the backbone of our organization.” Rotating coaches between the majors of minor leagues is something Lovullo called “a very healthy way for us to create continuity and make sure that we’re all pulling on the same rope in the same direction.”
Hedman and Short will not be in the same place at the same time. One will be in the majors for a bit while the other is in the minors. Periodically, they will switch sites. The same will hold true for Carlson and Enright, although the staff is still working out who will be where for what percent of the time. “it’s still an evolving process for us,” Lovullo explained. “We’re gonna make sure that we have everybody positioned in the right place at the right time without overlapping or having too many coaches in one place at one time. We’ve got to make sure we’re spread out the right way.
“The way that I’ve looked at it is the more coaches, the more teachers, the more eyes you have on players, the better off you’re going to be in making your evaluations. I think we added a lot of really quality baseball people to make those types of evaluations.”
Hybrid coaches are a relatively new development in Major League Baseball, but Lovullo said “a lot of teams are doing it, and they’re having a lot of success with it.” Two teams that used them last season are the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, who won 107 and 106 games, respectively.
2022 Diamondbacks Coaching Staff
The 2022 Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff has now been finalized. In addition to the names already mentioned, 2021 bench coach Luis “Pipe” Urueta will be the coordinator for major league player development and instruction. He will be responsible for scheduling group and individual coaching sessions for each major league player as needed. Replacing him as bench coach will be Jeff Banister, who joined the staff in late October.
The other returning coaches are Dave McKay and Tony Perezchica. McKay, who missed most of 2021 with internal injuries suffered from a fall in spring training, will be the first base coach and outfielder coach. Perezchica, the third base coach, will also work with the infielders.
Continuing Development in the Majors
Major league player development is something Lovullo said the team must improve. “Used to be, in years past, when you got to Triple-A, you tightened up all of your skills. By the time you got the big leagues, you’d better have had it figured out. If you didn’t, you got sent out. Well, that’s not the case anymore. You can see some of the some of the patience that we’ve had with some of our players, and it’s paying off handsomely. We want to shorten that gap, and we want to develop players at the big-league level.
“That just goes doesn’t just go for younger players. It’s older players as well. So there’s a lot to learn every single day, no matter what. A wise man once said that it’s what you learned after you think you’ve learned everything that matters the most.”
That wise man? John Wooden. Given the results of the past two seasons — and given how few free agent signings the Diamondbacks have done in the meantime — applying Wooden’s philosophies to major league player development might be the best available way to ensure better results in the win-loss column.