Club announces coaching staff for '12 season
Hill, Hyde not returning; Cora, Thurman to work under Guillen
MIAMI -- Manager Ozzie Guillen's staff will include some new as well as familiar faces.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Marlins finalized and announced the coaches for the 2012 season.
New additions are Joey Cora (bench) and Gary Thurman (first base/outfield/baserunning).
Returning from the '11 staff are Randy St. Claire (pitching), Eduardo Perez (hitting), Joe Espada (third base) and Reid Cornelius (bullpen). Also coming back is Jeffrey Urgelles as the bullpen coordinator.
Cora, who spent eight years on Guillen's staff with the White Sox, also will handle infield coaching duties. Cora was Chicago's bench coach the past five years.
"Joey has been Ozzie's right-hand man in Chicago for a long time," Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "In the initial conversations with Ozzie, the first name to bring in was Joey as a coach. He will handle the infield, which will free up Joe [Espada], who had done infield and who had done outfield. He's been very good at third base and very good at bunting. There are a lot of things Ozzie can use him for."
Upgrading their defense was a high priority for the Marlins in 2011, and the team met its objective.
The Marlins committed 93 errors, which was tied with the Angels for the ninth-fewest in the Major Leagues.
In 2012, Florida will look to keep making progress in the field without one of the best fielding instructors in the game, as Perry Hill is not joining Guillen's staff.
Hill, who is dealing with arthritis in his left knee, is widely considered one of the best infield instructors. Because of the discomfort in his knee, he decided a couple of weeks ago to not come back.
"There were some conversations with Perry, and obviously, he was having issues with his knee," Beinfest said. "He communicated with us. It was above board. There was stuff going on, and we started to look alternatively. But he let us know at the end of the season what was on his mind."
Under Hill's direction, two Marlins are finalists for National League Rawlings Gold Glove Awards -- Omar Infante (second base) and Gaby Sanchez (first base).
The Marlins' defense made great strides in 2011. Just five teams had a higher fielding percentage than Florida's .985. And the club's 93 errors were the sixth-fewest in the NL.
As part of Hill's credentials, his infielders hold a couple of MLB distinctions.
Hill joined the Tigers in 1997, and the team became the first in league history to go from worst to first in fielding percentage in consecutive years. And in '09, while with the Pirates, they became the first team in big league history to lose 90 or more games and lead MLB in fielding percentage (.988).
Also not returning is bench coach Brandon Hyde, who has accepted a Minor League coordinator position with the Indians.
Espada was the outfield coach in 2011 after being the infield coach in '10. He will assist with the outfielders, infielders and baserunning.
Cora played 11 seasons in the big leagues in a career that started in 1987 with the Padres and ended in 1998 with Cleveland. He appeared in the postseason four times.
Thurman previously was with the Indians, where he spent four years as the organization's Minor League outfield/baserunning coordinator. He coached and managed in the Minors, and in 2007, he was the Mariners' first-base/outfield/baserunning coach.
"Gary Thurman, I actually knew him a long time ago in Seattle," Beinfest said. "His was a name that Ozzie brought up as well. He really made a lot of sense. He's a great guy. Ozzie wanted somebody who is very active over at first base. He can really help with the baserunning and the outfield. He's got a lot of experience, in the big leagues as a player, and in the big leagues as a coach. I think he's a good add for us."