Tigers shift Gene Lamont to bench coach

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After seven seasons as the Tigers’ third base coach Gene Lamont is shifting to bench coach for 2013, with manager Jim Leyland stressing that the move wasn’t performance-based.

Leyland called Lamont “as good as any third base coach in the American League without question” and “a great baseball mind who will be there with me on the bench.”

As a 65-year-old former manager sitting alongside Leyland on the bench certainly seems like a more natural role for Lamont. Tom Brookens will shift from first base coach to third base coach and Rafael Belliard will go from infield coach to first base coach.

John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press notes that in most cases bench coach is considered a promotion from third base coach, although Leyland had gone without a bench coach for years now.

Mets sign Matt Purke to minors deal

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The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.

Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.

While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.