Davey Lopes, Tim Wallach and Trey Hillman officially named to Dodgers’ coaching staff
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The Dodgers officially announced their 2011 coaching staff Monday, the news value of which had long ago dissipated as it was leaked out in pieces for weeks.
Manager Don Mattingly’s first coaching staff will look largely familiar, with even the new faces being old friends.
Officially out: bench coach Bob Schaefer, third base coach Larry Bowa, first base coach Mariano Duncan and, of course, hitting coach Mattingly.
The replacements: bench coach Trey Hillman, third base coach Tim Wallach, first base coach Davey Lopes and hitting instructor Dave Hansen.
Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, hitting coach Jeff Pentland (up from instructor), bullpen coach Ken Howell and coach Manny Mota all return.
Schaefer decided it was time he moved on, but Bowa and Duncan wanted to return. I’d have liked to have seen the no-nonsense Bowa back, never feeling that leading a popularity contest in the clubhouse among coaches was a requirement.
Mattingly, too, wanted Bowa, but General Manager Ned Colletti said the coaching staff would be a mutual decision between him and Mattingly, so you can see how that went down.
‘We’re really happy to have this group here,’ Colletti said. ‘In my tenure here, this has a chance to be the strongest group we’ve had.’
Though I don’t have any personal insight about the American League’s Hillman, Mattingly and Colletti deserve some props for putting together a strong staff. And one largely with Dodgers roots.
Mattingly gets credit for not being threatened by Wallach, the former Dodger who had managed the last two seasons at triple-A Albuquerque and was favored by many to succeed Joe Torre.
And although Lopes, 65, isn’t exactly the old-school taskmaster like Bowa, he brings a certain veteran edge. Plus, as the Phillies first base coach, he was given great credit for their success running the bases. His first assignment: Matt Kemp. ‘It’s a thrill to come back,’ Lopes said. ‘I started with L.A., as everyone knows, and hopefully I will finish with L.A. It’s a great organization and I’ll do whatever I can to help bring this team back to where we’d all like it to be, and that’s with championships and World Series.’'
Lopes, who like Torre has battled prostate cancer, reportedly did not re-sign with the Phillies over financial differences. Which naturally makes it curious he signed with the Dodgers. A hometown discount? He lives in San Diego.
Wallach previously served as the Dodgers’ hitting coach for two seasons (2004-05) and was well-liked by his Albuquerque players. He will be a big-league manager somewhere.
Lopes and Hillman add former major league managing experience to the staff of Mattingly, who, of course, has never managed anywhere except for the recently concluded Arizona Fall League.
Lopes managed the Milwaukee Brewers from 2000-02 (144-195) and Hillman the Kansas City Royals from 2008-10 (152-207), a pair of highly unimpressive results, albeit for teams with something less than overflowing talent.
Hillman, 47, previously managed in the Yankees’ system for 12 years, so there’s your link to Mattingly. He was fired 35 games into last season by the Royals, who were on pace for a 100-loss season.
He originally became something of a managerial sensation in the Japanese Pacific League with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, leading them to the championship in 2006.
Hansen, 41, spent 11 seasons with the Dodgers. He spent the last three years as the Diamondbacks’ minor league hitting instructor.
Lopes knows Kemp through the outfielder’s agent, former Dodger Dave Stewart. Lopes said he already spoke to Kemp last week about preparing for next season.
‘He has extraordinary ability,’' Lopes said. ‘How far he takes that ... you have to make a commitment to winning. And that’s what we’ll talk about once we get into spring training.
‘Sometimes players need somebody they can talk to. When I played, I could go and talk to Tommy (Lasorda), and he motivated me. He gave me the confidence I needed my first year or so in the big leagues. Baseball can humble you very quickly. To have a guy like that to talk to, building you up, elevates you.
‘Then there is going to be a certain time in the course of his career, where he won’t need it anymore. Our job right now with this young team, sometimes they need something not necessarily from the playing aspect but from the psychological aspect.’
-- Steve Dilbeck