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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, January 10, 2019 1:22 pm

TinCaps announce coaching staff

Dylan Sinn | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps' coaching staff will have plenty of familiar faces in 2019. In fact, it will have exclusively familiar faces.

Fort Wayne's Midwest League baseball team announced its staff for the upcoming season on Thursday afternoon and for the first time in franchise history, its entire coaching staff from the previous year will return. Manager Anthony Contreras is back for a fourth season at the helm.

It will be the first time in the 27-year history of the Fort Wayne baseball franchise – including its years as the Wizards – that a manager will be on staff for four seasons. Only two others, Doug Dascenzo and Randy Ready, managed the team for three years. Both of them went on to coach in the major leagues.

"I'm extremely excited to be back in Fort Wayne to lead another talented group of young men," Contreras said in a statement. "I'm very fortunate to be back with my whole staff from last season and to work alongside Mike Nutter and his first-class staff at Parkview Field."

Contreras, 35, led the TinCaps to within one game of the playoffs last season. The team went 64-74 overall and lost in extra innings in a win-or-go-home game against the Lansing Lugnuts on the final day of the season. Contreras has a 194-220 overall record in three seasons and led the team to the league championship series in 2017.

Others returning to coach with the San Diego Padres' A-ball affiliate this season are pitching coach Burt Hooton, hitting coach Jonathan Mathews and fielding coach Jhonny Carvajal.

Hooton, a former Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher who won 151 MLB games and threw a no-hitter in 1972, is the senior member of the staff. He is back for his seventh season with the TinCaps, the longest tenure of any coach in franchise history. Fort Wayne pitchers compiled a 3.54 ERA last season and were third in the league with more than 1,200 strikeouts, while walking just 391, easily the fewest on the circuit.

Mathews is back for his second season as the hitting coach and third on the TinCaps' coaching staff. He was previously the hitting coach for the Kane County Cougars and coached Fort Wayne to a .681 OPS (on-base plus slugging) last season. Carvajal enters his third season as the fielding coach.

"Our organization is thrilled to welcome everyone back," TinCaps President Mike Nutter said. "It's great for us to know that not only will we have a group capable of developing future major league players, but also one that appreciates Fort Wayne and is committed to giving back to the fans in our community."

The TinCaps open the 11th season at Parkview Field with a matchup against the Lugnuts on April 4.

dsinn@jg.net