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The Journal Gazette

  • Contreras

Friday, January 12, 2018 1:00 am

TinCaps bringing back manager

Will be 3rd straight season at helm; Hooton also back

Brett A. Sommers | For The Journal Gazette

Anthony Contreras nearly led the TinCaps to a championship last season, and he's back for another crack in 2018.

The team announced Thursday that Contreras will become just the third manager to coach the team three consecutive years. 

Doug Dascenzo (2007-09) and Randy Ready (2004-06) each share the distinction.

After a string of one-and-done managers in the late 2000s, team President Mike Nutter is all for it.

“It's great when the leaders come back,” Nutter said. “They understand what we're trying to accomplish, and they understand what we're trying to accomplish.”

Contreras, 34, led the TinCaps to the Midwest League championship series last year – losing four straight to Quad Cities – despite having the youngest team in the league and sitting 18 games below .500 midway through the season.

The TinCaps rallied behind Contreras, a former Fort Wayne Wizard, and finished the season 42-28 to snag a playoff spot.

“I'm excited to return to Fort Wayne and build off the success we had last season,” Contreras said in a news release. “We're looking forward to developing another group of highly talented prospects.”

The former San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres prospect serves as coach, manager, mentor and father figure to players up and down the roster, according to Nutter.

“He's a great communicator, he's a great leader, and he's a really good human being,” Nutter said. “He's wearing all those hats, and he's very good at it.”

Contreras led the charge to claim the franchise's third Eastern Division title, but his won't be the only familiar face in the dugout.  

Burt Hooton extends his record as longest tenured coach in franchise history as the former major-league all-star (1981) enters his sixth season as the TinCaps' pitching coach.

John Nolan, TinCaps play-by-play announcer and media relations manager, said in addition to Hooton's pitching expertise, the longtime Chicago Cub and Los Angeles Dodger brings tradition and storytelling, too.

“Almost anyone in baseball who is anyone in the last half century, (Hooton) has some kind of connection,” Nolan said.

Nutter said Hooton has turned down numerous opportunities over the years to coach the San Antonio Missions – the San Diego Padres' AA affiliate – to stay with the TinCaps.

Although Hooton is 67, he relates well with the young Fort Wayne roster.

Hooton developed the 2017 TinCaps pitching staff into a record-breaking group, striking out a league-record 1,307 batters. 

“He can communicate about life, pitching, girls, being away from mom and dad,” Nutter said. 

Fielding coach Jhonny Carvajal returns for his second season as fielding coach, as will athletic trainer Allyse Kramer. 

Carvajal played a role in the development of shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who set a franchise record with 21 home runs in 2017, and Hudson Potts, who led all third basemen with a .962 fielding percentage.

Hitting coach Jonathan Mathews and strength coach Sam Hoffman are new to the staff.

Mathews is familiar within the Padres' organization, coaching outfielders with the big-league club last season. Hoffman was strength coach for the Tri-City Dust Devils, the Padres' short-season affiliate.

Doug Banks (hitting) and Jay Young (strength) departed from last season's staff.