Marlins finalize '14 coaching staff with two new faces
Butler joins as third-base/outfield coach; Menechino to oversee hitting
MIAMI -- A couple of new faces are joining Marlins manager Mike Redmond's staff for next season.
Brett Butler, regarded as one of the best bunters and baserunners during his playing days, joins the organization as the new third-base and outfield coach.
Taking over as the hitting coach will be Frank Menechino, who has spent five seasons as a hitting coach in the Yankees organization.
Butler replaces Joe Espada, who will manage Miami's Class A Jupiter affiliate. And interim hitting coach John Pierson has been reassigned to the Minor League staff.
The rest of the staff from Redmond's first season managing the club will be back.
"We are extremely excited to complete and announce Mike Redmond's staff for the 2014 season," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "Brett and Frank bring a wealth of experience and knowledge from their years as players and coaches. Coupled with our returning staff, we feel we have a tremendous mix of knowledgeable baseball men who will make our team better."
Rob Leary will return as the bench coach, and Perry Hill is back as infield and first-base coach.
Chuck Hernandez comes back as the pitching coach, and Reid Cornelius once again will be the bullpen coach.
Rounding out the staff is bullpen coordinator Jeffrey Urgelles.
The Marlins officially announced the moves early Friday night.
While the team has finalized its staff for now, the club is leaving open the possibility of adding a second hitting instructor. It is something the front office has discussed, and will continue to do so leading into Spring Training.
"We've had conversations," general manager Dan Jennings said. "We've tossed it around. We've weighed the pros and the cons. I'd say right now, I don't think we're leaning either way. It's something that we've taken note of, that some teams are doing it."
MLB allows teams to carry a seventh coach for such positions like a second hitting coach. If the Marlins go that way, they first want to make sure Redmond and Menechino are comfortable with it.
"Right now, I wouldn't say we're leaning either way, it's something we've talked about," Jennings said.
Fresh off a 62-100 season, the Marlins are looking to improve offensively. They finished last in the Majors in most significant statistical categories, including runs scored (513), home runs (95), batting average (.231), on-base percentage (.293) and slugging percentage (.335).
Before the start of Spring Training, the Marlins front office is planning on meeting and exchanging ideas on an organizational hitting approach.
"We're going to solicit input from all of our hitting people within the organization," Jennings said. "And we're going to create a Marlins Way, a Marlins Mindset, and work on all of our guys having a plan, and an understanding on how to take that into the game. And hopefully we'll get the results and the production."
The Marlins have had their eye on Butler for several seasons. He joins Miami's staff after nine seasons in the D-backs organization, with his last five as manager of Triple-A Reno.
Butler also will serve as the baserunning and bunting instructor.
In his 17-year big league career, Butler played for the Braves, Indians, Giants, Dodgers and Mets.
Butler has the distinction of being one of 26 players in MLB history with at least 2,000 hits and 500 stolen bases.
"He fills so many boxes," Jennings said. "This guy, No. 1, his pedigree and what he did as a Major League player for 17 years. He made his name in the game being a bunting, baserunning and outfield guy."
Menechino is a native of Staten Island, N.Y., and he played for Team Italy in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
The past three seasons, he was the hitting coach of Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He also was the hitting coach at Double-A Trenton in the Yankees organization.
Leary will be entering his second season as Redmond's bench coach. Previously, he had stints in the Cleveland (2012) and Boston (2002-2011) organizations.
Miami's pitching was the bright spot in a disappointing season, and Hernandez has been praised for the development of a young rotation and the bullpen.
Despite losing 100 games, the 2013 Marlins' pitchers set franchise records with a 3.71 team ERA and a 3.42 bullpen ERA.
Defensively, Marlins infielders enjoyed a strong season under the direction of Hill, regarded as one of the best infield instructors in the game.
Last season, the Marlins had the best fielding percentage in the Majors in September (.993), committing errors in just four of the final 24 games. The team finished with a .986 fielding percentage, tied for fourth in the National League and tied for the second-best mark in team history. In 2003, under Hill, the Marlins finished with a franchise-best .987 infield fielding percentage.
Cornelius will enter his fifth season as the bullpen coach, and his 12th season in the Marlins organization. In 2013, the Marlins bullpen's 3.42 ERA matched the 2011 club for the best ERA in club history.
"I think overall, Red is happy with the staff," Jennings said. "That's the most important thing. Everyone on that staff works for the manager, and Red is pleased and he signed off on it. It's a situation where we knew this was going to be a transitional year for Red as a first-year manager. Red has people around him that he definitely believes in and believes in their abilities."