Blue Jays hire Don Mattingly as bench coach

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
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TORONTO — Don Mattingly was expecting to spend a summer at home with his family. A call from the Toronto Blue Jays convinced him to get back into baseball.

Mattingly, who left his job as Miami Marlins manager at the end of last season, is joining Toronto’s staff as bench coach to manager John Schneider, the team announced.

Mattingly said he’d been contacted by multiple clubs with offers for 2023, but nothing interested him until Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins called to chat.

“Just the first conversation, it felt great, honestly,” Mattingly said on a video call Wednesday. “It piqued my interest right away.”

Mattingly managed against the Blue Jays in 2020 and 2021.

“Knowing the talent and seeing it, I know it’s a really good club,” Mattingly said. “You look at the combination of youth and experience, and an offense that can throw runs up. Over the last few years I’ve seen these guys. They throw runs up in a hurry. I think all the ingredients are there to win.”

The former New York Yankees slugger and six-time All-Star joins the Blue Jays after seven seasons with the Marlins. Mattingly won NL Manager of the Year honors with Miami in 2020.

“Credibility and experience are achieved in many different ways, and Don’s is unique for our staff,” Atkins said. “Experience and credibility are words that get used a lot in professional sports, and in life and in corporate worlds. It’s hard to quantify exactly how valuable that is, but I think it’s something that will create that calming impact and influence, and help not only with performance and lack thereof, but also with accountability, which will be huge.”

Before Miami, Mattingly won three division titles in five seasons as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also worked as hitting coach and bench coach for the Yankees, and as hitting coach of the Dodgers before his managerial stint in Los Angeles.

In Toronto, Mattingly replaces Casey Candaele, who was promoted from Triple-A Buffalo to serve as Schneider’s bench coach after the Jays fired manager Charlie Montoyo in July, replacing him with Schneider. The Blue Jays said Candaele will resume his job as manager of the Triple-A Bisons in 2023.

Mattingly spent his entire 14-year playing career with the Yankees, winning nine Gold Gloves at first base, three Silver Slugger awards, the 1984 AL batting title and the 1985 AL MVP award.

Brown hired as general manager of Houston Astros

astros general manager
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HOUSTON — In joining the World Series champion Houston Astros, new general manager Dana Brown’s goal is to keep the team at the top of the league.

“I’m coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,” he said. “We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.”

Brown was hired by the Astros on Thursday, replacing James Click, who was not given a new contract and parted ways with the Astros just days after they won the World Series.

Brown spent the last four seasons as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves.

“He is very analytic savvy,” Astros’ owner Jim Crane said. “He’s a great talent evaluator based upon what we’ve seen at the Braves, seasoned at player acquisitions, seasoned at player development and retention. They were often able to extend some of their player contracts… he’s got great people skills, excellent communicator and, last but not least, he’s a baseball player and knows baseball in and out and we were very impressed with that.”

The 55-year-old Brown becomes the only Black general manager in the majors and joins manager Dusty Baker to form just the second pairing of a Black manager and general manager in MLB history. The first was general manager Ken Williams and manager Jerry Manuel with the White Sox.

Brown said he interviewed for GM jobs with the Mets and Mariners in the past and that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told him to stay positive and that his time to be a general manager would come.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “We understand that there are a lot of qualified African Americans in the game that know baseball and that could be a big part of an organization and leading organization in baseball operations. So at the end of the day, I think it’s good for our sport to have diversity and I’m really excited for this opportunity.”

Crane was asked about having the league’s only Black general manager.

“Certainly, we are very focused on diversity with the Astros,” he said. “It’s a plus, but the guy’s extremely qualified and he’ll do a great job. It’s nice to see a man like Dana get the job and he earned the job. He’s got the qualifications. He’s ready to go.”

Brown doesn’t have a lot of connections to the Astros, but does have some ties. He played baseball at Seton Hall with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Astros and serves as special assistant to the general manager. He played against fellow Hall of Famer and special assistant to the general manager Jeff Bagwell in the Cape Cod league during a short minor league career.

Brown said he spoke to both of them before taking the job and also chatted with Baker, whom he’s know for some time.

“Dusty is old school, he cuts it straight and I like it,” Brown said. “And so that means I can cut it straight with him.”

Brown worked for the Blue Jays from 2010-18 as a special assistant to the general manager. From 2001-09 he worked as director of scouting for the Nationals/Expos. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent eight years as their area scouting supervisor and East coast cross checker.

Click had served as Houston’s general manager since joining the team before the 2020 season from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brown, who has been part of drafting a number of big-name players like Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and last season’s National League rookie of the year Michael Harris, is ready to show Crane that bringing him to Houston was the right choice.

“Baseball is all I know, it’s my entire life,” he said. “So I want to empty myself into this city, the Astro fans and let Jim Crane know that he made a special pick.”