By Jon Weisman
We’ve got the names of next year’s Dodger coaches, and all but two will be new to their positions in Los Angeles.
Joining pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and catching instructor Steve Yeager with the Dodgers will be Bob Geren as bench coach, Turner Ward as hitting coach, George Lombard as first-base coach, Chris Woodward as third base coach, Josh Bard as bullpen coach, Tim Hyers as assistant hitting coach and good ol’ Juan Castro — who started the Dodgers’ first triple play in Los Angeles on June 15, 1996 — in the newly created position of quality assurance coach.
Here’s more on everyone joining the staff, from the Dodgers’ public relations department:
Geren, 54, joins the Dodgers as bench coach following four seasons in the same position for the New York Mets. Prior to his time in New York, Geren spent 13 seasons in the Athletics’ organization, where he was a minor league manager for four years (1999-2002) before joining Oakland’s Major League staff as bullpen coach (2003-05) and bench coach (2006). In 2007, he was named the Athletics’ manager and guided the club to a 334-376 record (.470) over four seasons until June 9, 2011. Geren began his coaching career in 1995 as the manager of Boston’s Single-A Utica and has served seven seasons as a minor-league manager, compiling a 452-390 record (.537) and winning Single-A California League Manager of the Year honors in 1999 with Modesto.
Prior to joining the coaching ranks, Geren played 15 professional seasons as catcher in the Padres, Cardinals, Yankees and Red Sox organizations, including five big-league seasons with the Yankees (1988-91) and San Diego (1993). He was originally selected by the Padres in the first round (24th overall) in the 1979 draft.
Honeycutt, 61, returns for an 11th season as Dodger pitching coach, with his tenure now extending to working under a fourth manager in Dave Roberts. Since he took the reins as pitching coach in 2006, the Dodgers lead all Major League teams in ERA (3.65), opponents’ batting average (.247), strikeouts (12,605) and WHIP (1.27). Honeycutt, who pitched 21 big-league seasons from 1977-1997, is the third-longest tenured pitching coach in Los Angeles history, behind only Ron Perranoski (1981-1994) and Red Adams (1969-1980).
Ward, 50, joins the Dodgers following eight seasons in the Arizona organization, including three years on the Diamondbacks’ Major League staff as hitting coach (2014-15) and assistant hitting coach (2013). Under Ward’s tutelage last season, Arizona produced two Silver Sluggers (first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and center fielder A.J. Pollock) and led the NL in hits (1,494), while ranking among the Senior Circuit’s best in runs (720, second), extra-base hits (491, second), batting average (.264, third), on-base percentage (.324, third) and slugging percentage (.414, second). Ward began his coaching career with two seasons in the Pirates organization in 2006-07 and has compiled a 216-190 record (.532) over four seasons managing in the minors: 2006 (Rookie-level GCL Pirates), 2007 (Single-A State College) and 2011-12, when he led Double-A Mobile to back-to-back Southern League championships and was named the league’s 2011 Manager of the Year.
Ward enjoyed a 12-year big league playing career (1990-2001) with the Indians (1990-91), Blue Jays (1991-93), Brewers (1994-96), Pirates (1997-99), D-backs (1999-2000) and Phillies (2001), combining to hit .251 with 39 home runs and 219 RBI in 626 games, following his selection by the Yankees in the 18th round of the 1986 draft. An outfielder, Ward played college ball at Faulkner State Junior College and the University of South Alabama.
Lombard, who spent part of the 2008 season in the Dodger organization as a non-roster invitee and at Triple-A, returns to the club as first base coach following six seasons coaching in Boston’s minor-league system. For the last three seasons, Lombard was Boston’s minor-league outfield and baserunning coordinator after two years (2011-12) managing the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Red Sox. He joined the coaching ranks in 2010 as the hitting coach for Single-A Lowell.
Lombard’s playing career spanned 16 years from 1994-2009, with the outfielder reaching the Majors in 1998 and appearing in 144 big league games with the Braves (1998-2000), Tigers (2002), Rays (2003) and Nationals (2006). The Georgia native was originally selected by Atlanta in the second round of the 1994 draft.
Woodward, 39, joins the Dodgers following two seasons as the Mariners’ first-base coach. He began his coaching career in 2013 as Seattle’s minor-league infield coordinator following 12 Major League seasons with the Blue Jays (1999-2004), Mets (2005-06), Braves (2007), Mariners (2009-10) and Red Sox (2009). Woodward, who also worked with the Mariners’ infielders during his time on the big-league staff, primarily appeared as a shortstop during his playing career, but saw time at every position besides pitcher and catcher at the Major League level.
A native of Covina, Woodward attended Northview High School before playing baseball collegiately at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, until he was selected by the Blue Jays in the 54th round of the 1994 draft.
Bard, 37, enters the coaching ranks as the Dodgers’ bullpen coach following three years in the club’s front office as a special assistant (2013) and professional scout (2014-15). The former backstop played in 10 Major League seasons with the Indians (2002-05), Red Sox (2006), Padres (2006-08), Nationals (2009) and Mariners (2010-11) before finishing his career with the Dodger organization in 2012 as a non-roster invitee and at Triple-A. He was originally selected by the Rockies in the third round of the 1999 draft.
Hyers, 44, takes over as Los Angeles’ assistant hitting coach after three years as the Red Sox’s minor-league hitting coordinator. This appointment will mark Hyers’ first time on a permanent big-league staff, though he served as Boston’s interim hitting coach for part of the 2014 season while Greg Colbrunn took a medical leave of absence. Hyers also served as the hitting coach for the Tigers’ Single-A West Michigan club in 2002 and was a Red Sox area scout covering Georgia from 2009-12.
A first baseman/outfielder, Hyers played in four Major League seasons with the Padres (1994-95), Tigers (1996) and Marlins (1999) after being selected by the Blue Jays in the second round of the 1990 draft.
Castro, who spent the last two seasons as the Dodgers’ minor-league infield coordinator, assumes the newly created role as the club’s quality assurance coach. The 43-year-old immediately joined the Dodgers’ front office as a special assistant following his retirement as a player on July 10, 2011, concluding a 17-year big league career with the Dodgers (1995-99, 2009, 2010, 2011), Reds (2000-04, 2006-08), Twins (2005-06), Orioles (2008) and Phillies (2010). The sure-handed infielder was originally signed by the Dodgers an amateur free agent out of Mexico on June 18, 1991.
Yeager, 67, enters his fifth season as the Dodgers’ catching instructor and will work with the club’s Major League backstops in both Spring Training and throughout the season. Known as a stellar defensive catcher during his 15-year big league career, including 14 years with the Dodgers, Yeager was a member of the 1981 World Series championship team and was named tri-MVP of the Fall Classic along with Ron Cey and Pedro Guerrero. Yeager was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the fourth round of the 1967 draft and has worked on the club’s behalf at many community events through the years.