Dillard will be joined by pitching coach Arthur (Ace) Adams, hitting coach Joe Kruzel, and trainer Manabu "Boo" Kuwazuru. Only Dillard and Kuwazuru were in the Cardinals organization in 2007.
"I am thrilled about coming back to the Quad Cities," Dillard said. "This will be my fourth year with this team and it's a place that I'm comfortable with. I'm tickled that we're going to be the River Bandits again and I can't wait."
2008 will actually be the 56-year-old Dillard's third assignment in the Quad Cities during his long coaching career. Born in Memphis, the Mississippi resident managed the Quad City River Bandits during 1993 and 1994, when they were affiliated with the Houston Astros. Dillard returned for the 2006 season as the hitting coach for the Swing of the Quad Cities before spending 2007 with the Palm Beach Cardinals in the same role.
As a player, Dillard spent eight seasons as a major league infielder, including three years with the Chicago Cubs that included a career-high .283 batting average in 1979. His son Tim earned a spot on the Milwaukee Brewers' 40-man roster this off-season.
"I'm really looking forward to it," Dillard added. "The Quad Cities is one of my favorite places and I loved it when I was here. I really believe the River Bandits have great potential as a franchise and are a great fit for the Cardinals with all of the fan support in the area. We're going to have a lot of young players and we're going to put a good team out there."
Kruzel comes to the Cardinals organization following two seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. He served as hitting coach for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Reds in 2006 and manager of the Short Season Class-A Billings Mustangs in 2007. In the past, the Ohio native has coached primarily at the college level. That included 15 seasons at the University of Toledo, first as an assistant coach (1989-92) and then head coach (1993-2003). He also logged one season as assistant coach at Miami University in 2005.
Adams joins the River Bandits after serving as a minor league coach for the Montreal Expos (1997-2001), Florida Marlins (2002), and most recently the Boston Red Sox (2004-06). The Massachusetts native spent the 2006 season as the pitching coach for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. Like Kruzel, Adams has a long resume at the college level. He coached for 13 years at Dartmouth (1984). Harvard (1985), Brandeis (1986-89) and Michigan (1989-96).
After receiving his graduate degree from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2003, Kurazawu served as the organization's trainer in the short-season New York-Penn League, first with the New Jersey Cardinals. He spent 2007 on the staff of the Batavia Muckdogs.
The 2007 Swing of the Quad Cities staff consisted of manager Keith Mitchell, hitting coach Nelson Norman, pitching coach Bryan Eversgerd and trainer Eric Bauer. Norman was a late addition when the originally-announced hitting coaches for QC, Dillard, and Palm Beach, Derrick May, were each bumped up one level to cover for Springfield's Joe Cunningham, who went out on a leave of absence.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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