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Jays Hire Don Mattingly as Bench Coach

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Jays made a free agent signing. Just not the pitcher or outfielder we have been looking forward to.

Don Mattingly has been signed to take the job as bench coach. Casey Candaele, who finished last season in that job, has been demoted to the manager of the Bisons. I don’t know where Jeff Ware will end up. Going from the luxury of the majors back to the bus rides of the minors must not be all that thrilling for Casey, but he still gets a paycheck.

Mattingly became the hitting coach for the Yankees in 2003. After losing out on the Yankees’ manager job, he became the Dodgers hitting coach in 2008. He became manager of the Dodgers in 2011. He came in second for Manager of the Year in 2014 and was fired after the 2015 season. Such is the manager's life: One day, you are a genius, the next, you are a bum.

After that, Don became the Marlins manager after the 2015 season. As a manager he has a 889-950 record over 12 seasons.

Before that, Mattingly was the first baseman for the Yankees. He seemed like a sure thing to make the Hall of Fame, after his first few seasons in the MLB. He won AL MVP in 1985, came in second in 1986 and received MVP votes five other times. He was a 6-time All-Star and 9-time Gold Glove winner.

Unfortunately, in an era where players routinely played into their late-30s and often 40s, Mattingly had back issues, and his age 34 season was his last in the MLB.

Career he hit .307/.358/.471 with 222 home runs.

He also famously played one out of a game at second base at the end of the ‘pine tar’ game when Billy Martin wanted to underline what a mockery of baseball it was to play the last inning of the game a few days after the start. But that’s a story for another time.

What does he bring to the team?

Another voice on the bench. Someone for John Schneider to bounce ideas off. And, of course, he gives the players an extra person to talk to about batting. Few coaches have the track record he has as a hitter. But then, I don’t know how that will translate. There aren’t many successful hitting coaches who were great hitters in the majors. In part because great hitters never had to work at it. They usually had gifts of great hand/eye coordination, strength and bat speed. That is hard to teach.

But Mattingly had a great eye at the plate. Maybe he can impart some calmness on our batters. I doubt there will be a noticeable difference in our offense (but then we have a pretty terrific offense). He was also a terrific first baseman, so he could be great for Vladimir Guerrero.

It puts a little pressure on Schneider, having an experienced manager so close by. If we had a losing skid, it would be easy for the front office to make a quick change. Not that Mattingly has the world's greatest track record as a manager, but he has experience. If we have a poor first-month JaysTalk will be full of callers who want a change.

Welcome to the Jays, Don. I hope you are part of a very successful run.


About the signing of Mattingly, I’m

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