These players you loved watching are still in baseball ... as coaches
There comes a time in every player's life when it's time to hang up the cleats. Retirement can come quickly for a number of reasons, among them nagging injuries or a sense of accomplishment -- having picked up that elusive World Series ring, for example.
For some, their dedication and passion for the game leads to a new chapter. Perhaps a stint in the broadcast booth or the transition to becoming a coach, advisor or manager.
The passage of time moves quickly, as we all know, and there are some current and new coaches and managers at either the MLB or Minor League levels who may seem a bit familiar to you.
Players like ...
One of the most recent players to make this transition is Gomes. The slugging outfielder, whose last appearance as a player was in 2015 with the Royals, was named the D-backs outfield/baserunning coordinator.
Here's a suggestion to Jonny: Just play highlights like this over and over to inspire the team:
Gagne was a fierce competitor on the mound, and his lights-out pitching set a record when he nailed down 84 consecutive saves for the Dodgers in the early 2000s. Since his last pitch in the Majors in 2008, he's coached the French national team and served as a pitching coach with the Rangers' Arizona League affiliate in 2018.
The Nashville Sounds, the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate, recently announced that Gagne will serve as the team's bullpen coach, alongside fellow former players Brian Shouse, Howard Johnson, Jason Wood and Geno Petralli.
Mordecai was a quietly effective player for several teams, proving to be a useful utility man for 12 seasons with the Expos, Braves and Marlins through 2005. It was with the Marlins that Mordecai picked up a huge bases-clearing double in the thrilling (or heartbreaking, if you're a Cubs fan) Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS:
Mordecai, now 51, was recently named the manager of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Blue Jays' Double-A affiliate, marking Mordecai's first managerial gig since 2005.
Pena's most recent activity as a player came in 2017 with the Royals' Triple-A affiliate, after a 12-year career spent catching for the Braves, Royals, Tigers, Reds and Cardinals. His only postseason experience came in the 2013 ALCS with the Tigers, but he made it count:
He'll be the manager of the Class A Connecticut Tigers this season, his first foray into managing.
Meet our 2019 Coaching Staff! First year Manager and 12-year @MLB veteran Brayan Peña will be joined by returning staff members Bill Springman, Carlos Bohorquez & Sean McFarland. Opening Night at #DoddStadium Sunday, June 16th!— Connecticut Tigers (@thecttigers) December 17, 2018
READ MORE ➡️ https://t.co/eLUh8UWwJ7 pic.twitter.com/Ip1NBjovwP
This last October was great for trivia buffs -- especially those interested who remember watching Loretta, who spent parts of his 15-year playing career with each of the four teams in the LCS this postseason.
Loretta's swan song was the 2009 season with the Dodgers, popping up four years later as the coach of the Israeli team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifier (which the team lost to Spain).
Loretta will spend 2019 as the Cubs' bench coach under Joe Maddon, marking his first activity as a coach at the MLB level.
Just as Loretta will be seen in the Cubs' dugout this upcoming season, Duncan will be the Blue Jays' Major League field coordinator in 2019, taking the leap from previous coaching gigs at the Class-A level for the D-backs.
For seven seasons, Duncan played a variety of roles for the Yankees, Indians and Rays, with whom he spent his final campaign in 2013.
Along with Kerry Wood, Prior was one of the can't-miss pitching prospects of the Cubs in the early 2000s. He was a big part of the 2003 Cubs, who fell just short of a World Series trip (thanks to Mordecai and the Marlins).
Before the 2018 season, the Dodgers hired him away from the Padres (where he'd been working as a Minor League pitching coordinator) and made him their bullpen coach, a position he will carry into the 2019 season.
The highest profile example of this phenomenon is arguably Baldelli, whose career was ended prematurely due to health concerns in 2011. After that point, he transitioned to coaching, and he was the Rays' first-base coach in 2014 under manager (and his former teammate) Kevin Cash.
Injuries hampered Baldelli's career, which started out with a bang in 2003-04 with Tampa Bay. Despite his injury struggles, Baldelli did manage to play in the postseason for the Rays in 2008 -- and hit a game-tying homer in the World Series against the Phillies:
His playing days behind him, Baldelli made the biggest leap possible in late October when he was named the Twins' new manager for 2019.
When was the last time you recall seeing Barajas play? Though it may feel as if you've seen him catching in the past few years, the correct answer is 2012, his final MLB season, with the Pirates. Here's his last home run, hit in late '12 with Pittsburgh:
In 2014, Barajas managed the Arizona League Padres before moving on to Triple-A El Paso, a trajectory that helped lead him to where he'll be in 2019 as Andy Green's bench coach for the Padres.
During the A's "Moneyball" run in the early 2000s, a hot-hitting shortstop prospect from Long Beach State was lurking in the Minors. And in 2004, Crosby emerged as a can't-miss youngster, earning the AL Rookie of the Year Award for his efforts in Oakland.
After moving to the D-backs and Pirates, Crosby's career came to an end after a Spring Training stint with the Brewers in 2013. Flash forward six years later, and Crosby -- still just 39 years old -- was named a coach for the Double-A Midland RockHounds.
Baseball has a way of reminding you of the past quite frequently, doesn't it?