Leyland Completes Coaching Staff

On Friday, new manager Jim Leyland completed his six man coaching staff when he named Chuck Hernandez, formally of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, as his pitching coach. In completing the staff, it has now been finalized that none of the members of the staff from 2005 will return to the dugout.

Being a veteran of the game, Jim Leyland knew plenty of people that he could bring in to build a solid staff around him.

Most baseball experts agree he did that – as his staff features a pair of former managers in Gene Lamont and Lloyd McClendon.

Lamont has worked with Leyland before on two separate occasions, and will move in as the team's third base coach.

McClendon meanwhile was just relieved of his duties as Pirates' manager a couple months ago. In a somewhat surprising move, McClendon will move out to the bullpen, where he'll serve as bullpen coach.

The other three previously named coaches are all first timers; Don Slaught, Andy Van Slyke, and Rafael Belliard. Slaught will serve as the team's hitting coach, Van Slyke as the outfield and first base coach, and Belliard as the team's infield coach.

The staff was completed with the naming of Hernandez to the position. Hernandez is of course the team's second choice, after the rather public pursuit of Cubs' pitching coach Larry Rothschild ended with Rothschild electing to stay in Chicago rather than be re-united with Leyland in Detroit.

Hernandez was of course ready to move on after Lou Piniella elected to leave the team. Widely regarded as a coach willing to work within a pitcher's abilities and coach to their individual strengths, Hernandez was also instrumental in the development of Scott Kazmir, the Rays' prized pitching prospect who posted a 10-9 record in his first full major league season.

Hernandez of course will be charged with helping develop a rather young staff looking to take the next step. Besides the obvious development of Jeremy Bonderman, who the Tigers are hoping will take the next step into the upper echelon of pitchers in 2006, Hernandez will also be saddled with the chore of ensuring the continued development of prized pitching prospects Joel Zumaya and Justin Verlander, both of whom could make it to Detroit sometime during the '06 campaign.

So, a staff made up of mostly Tigers is moved out, and a staff made up of mostly Pirates is moved in. Let's hope the new group has more success than the last one.

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