Cards Fill Open Minor League Coaching Jobs

Mike Matheny and Mitchell Page re-join the Cardinals organization, while Roger LaFrancois is added and pro scouting head Matt Carroll receives a promotion.

On Thursday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced the completion of hiring of their 2010 US-based minor league hitting coach staff. Former Major League hitting coach Mitchell Page has been hired as hitting instructor at Single-A Quad Cities while Roger LaFrancois will be hitting coach at the organization's rookie Gulf Coast League Cardinals club. Note: An earlier report that LaFrancois is joining Johnson City was in error.

In addition, former four-time Major League Rawlings Gold-Glove catcher and Cardinals fan-favorite Mike Matheny has been hired as Special Assistant, Player Development and Matt Carroll received a promotion in the Scouting Department.

Matheny returns to the organization to serve in a variety of roles. He will be the club's catching instructor during both the major league and minor league spring camps and during the regular season will visit each of the organization's minor league clubs. Matheny will also be called upon to assist V.P. of Scouting and Player Development Jeff Luhnow.

After being out of baseball for almost three seasons, Page, 58, also returns to the Cardinals. He worked most recently for the Washington Nationals from 2005-07.

Page's time with the Nats seemed clouded with uncertainty. After serving as the organization's minor league hitting instructor in 2005, he was named as Washington's major league hitting coach for 2006. After the season and in the midst of a managerial change, the club first announced Page would be returning to his previous minor league role for 2007 before reversing field three weeks later, keeping him with the big club.

That wouldn't last long. In May 2007, early in his second season with the major league club, Page left his job for what was described as "undisclosed personal reasons" and was replaced by Lenny Harris. The underpowered Nationals were last in the National League in batting average and runs scored at the time.

Page was the Cardinals Major League hitting coach from mid-2001 through 2004, including during their "MV3" heyday. He left the Cardinals after the 2004 World Series and entered an alcohol treatment facility. Page was replaced by Hal McRae, since dumped in favor of Mark McGwire. Prior to that, Page served as minor league hitting coordinator for the Cardinals and he was the hitting coach at Triple-A Memphis for one season, 1998.

The Cardinals are pleased about Page's return, rumored for several months. "We're happy to have Mitchell back in the Cardinals organization," said Cardinals Director of Minor League Operations John Vuch. "He brings a wealth of teaching experience, having worked with hitters at all levels, and his ability to instruct young hitters makes him an ideal fit for us at Quad Cities."

Prior to joining the Cardinals, Page was the Kansas City Royals' first base coach for the 1995-97 seasons. From 1992-94, he was the hitting instructor and first base coach for Triple-A Tacoma. A member of the Oakland A's organization at that time, Page worked with Tony La Russa and Walt Jocketty. He played in the major leagues from 1977-84.

LaFrancois brings a long resume of coaching experience to the Cardinals, having worked with five different Major League organizations over the last 25 years. He began with the Atlanta Braves in 1984-85, the Montreal Expos in 1988-89, Chicago White Sox from 1989-96, then moved to the New York Mets from 1997-2003. LaFrancois spent the 2004-05 seasons in the San Francisco Giants system and the 2007-09 campaigns with the Worcester (MA) Tornadoes of the independent CanAm League.

LaFrancois was a catcher in the Boston Red Sox organization for eight seasons and saw eight games of Major League action during the 1982 season. He is active in clinic work with youngsters and runs LaFrancois Marketing Consultants, a marketing and public relations firm in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

The Cardinals also announced that Matt Carroll has been promoted to Manager of Professional Scouting. In his new role, Carroll oversees all aspects of the coordination of the team's pro scouts as well as being responsible for scouting two Major League organizations. His previous title was Coordinator, Baseball Operations/Professional Scouting.

The Cardinals previously announced most of the remainder of their 2010 US-based coaches on November 5. Still open is the managerial job at Palm Beach. In addition, their academy staffs are in place with the exception of the Venezuelan Summer League Cardinals skipper, to be named soon: link to earlier article



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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