Hansen Becomes KC's Pitching Coach

The Kansas City Royals have brought back a familiar face. Guy Hansen, who was the Royals pitching coach from 1991-1993, has been re-hired in the same capacity. "To go back to Kansas City where I started as a player, grew up as a scout, and got the opportunity to get to the big leagues mainly due to the will of several players and a few select front office people, it's really going to be a challenge," Hansen says.

The Royals drafted Hansen back in 1969 out of UCLA. He spent four seasons in their minor league system. Hansen then spent many years as a scout with the Royals, and is credited with signing Bret Saberhagen, Kevin Appier, and Cecil Fielder.

"It's something I'm really looking forward to," Hansen explains. "You've got a club that in a pitchers ballpark gave up more hits than any team in baseball, had less strikeouts than any team in baseball, had no 10-game winner, and had the worst ERA in the American League, but I'm still chomping at the big to get over there."

Hansen met recently in Chicago with Kansas City General Manager Allard Baird and Royals Manage Tony Pena.

"It's an unbelievable challenge," Hansen says, "but I really believe in their scouts that are still there, and I really believe in Allard Baird. My conversations and meeting with Tony Pena went very, very well."

Hansen has been the Richmond Braves pitching coach for the last four seasons, helping numerous young arms make that last jump to Atlanta. He joined the Braves in 1998 as a Special Assistant in the Player Development Department. He was originally hired as a scout by John Schuerholz in Kansas City.

"Well actually this was one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had because of two things," says Hansen. "The relationship I've had for years with John Schuerholz and his phone call to me basically telling me that I had a job with Atlanta for as long as I wanted to, but that I had to take seriously this opportunity with Kansas City. He even brought up how he had a love for Kansas City and how he was going to keep an eye on how things were going to go. That meant a lot to me."

"And then the relationship I've had with Dayton Moore. I mean Dayton Moore is absolutely the best. He has allowed me to do my thing, and sometime with my aggressiveness and stuff, I can get on some people's nerves. But I give him all the credit in the world. Hopefully he is the heir apparent in Atlanta or somewhere. He's going to be a major league General Manager and a damn good one. But I appreciate his sincerity and his confidence."

Hansen will reunite with Royals phenom Zach Greinke, who pitched for Hansen a few years ago in Puerto Rico. Greinke has publicly said Hansen was instrumental in his early success in the minor leagues.

"Well Zach Greinke is so special," Hansen explains. "He's so special and so unique. I told Allard in Chicago that his decision to let Zach go to Puerto Rico with basically no experience was an unbelievable call. It's impossible to let him go, but he did because he had confidence. Hopefully this is what it's all about."

The Richmond Braves have led the International League the last two seasons in ERA, and Hansen has been involved in many pitchers development in the Braves system. He said it was not an easy decision to leave the Braves.

"It was not a slam dunk," he says. "I love the city of Richmond. I love our house. Our kids are right here next to a great public school. It was not easy. But looking in Allard's eyes and in Tony Pena's eyes, there's a real desire to come back and help anyway I can. When people are that genuine and that sincere, you have to go and do the best you can. But the Braves experience has been tremendous. The ability to get in and watch Smoltzie and Glavine and Maddux do their thing, picking up some things from watching Leo and what he believes in have been invaluable to me. Things that have really been able to help me grow as a pitching coach."

The Braves have not announced a replacement for Hansen in Richmond.

Bill Shanks can be reached at thebravesshow@email.com

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