The Oakland A's added two familiar faces to their big league coaching staff on Thursday. They also said good-bye to two long-time members of the organization this week.
On Thursday, the A's announced that former centerfielder Mark Kotsay would be joining manager Bob Melvin's staff as the team's new bench coach. He replaces Mike Aldrete at that position. Aldrete is taking over as the A's first base and outfield coach, replacing Tye Waller, who was let go at the end of the season. The A's have also added former minor league prospect Phil Pohl to the big league staff as the team's bullpen catcher. He replaces Casey Chavez at that spot.
Kotsay spent 17 seasons in the big leagues, including four of them with the A's. He was a career .276 hitter in 1,916 major-league games and had a reputation as one of the league's top defensive centerfielders during the prime of his career. Kotsay was an important part of the A's 2006 squad that earned a spot in the American League Championship Series. He hit an inside-the-park homerun in the Division Series that year that helped propel the A's to a three-game sweep over the favored Minnesota Twins.
Pohl was the A's 28th-round pick in 2012. He quickly developed a reputation for being a bright baseball mind. He moved around the A's organization quite a bit during his three-plus years with Oakland, appearing in games at every level. In 2014, Pohl hit nine homers in 54 games with High-A Stockton, although he was known more for his defense behind the plate. Pohl was traded to the Rockies for cash during last season and was released by Colorado at the end of July. He finished the year in the Independent Leagues.
The A's are currently in the market for two new minor league coordinators. This week Oakland lost hitting coordinator Greg Sparks and pitching coordinator Garvin Alston. Sparks was named the new assistant hitting coach for the Chicago White Sox. He joins former A's hitting coordinator Todd Steverson on the White Sox's staff. Steverson is Chicago's hitting coach. Alston is the new bullpen coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He joins a staff led by manager Chip Hale, the former A's bench coach.
Sparks had been a valuable member of the A's player development staff for nearly 20 years. He served a variety of roles, but spent nine of the last 11 years as the A's minor league hitting coordinator. Alston joined the A's organization in 2005 as the A's Low-A pitching coach. He was the organization's rehab coordinator from 2009-2014 and moved into the pitching coordinator role in 2015 when Scott Emerson joined the A's coaching staff as the bullpen coach. Both Sparks and Alston were very popular among the A's minor league players and have excellent reputations around the game for their baseball acumen.