DANVILLE, VA - Just seven days after the Danville Otterbots brand was announced to local, national and worldwide fanfare, the team has announced 11-year MLB veteran Desi Relaford as the club’s manager for the inaugural season of the revamped Appalachian League.
Relaford brings a plethora of baseball experience and knowledge from nearly every spot on the diamond to the Otterbots. In 2018, Relaford began his coaching career as the bench coach for the Daytona Tortugas, Advanced-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, where he helped guide the team to a 69-66 overall record and a Florida State League Championship Series berth. Prior to the start of his coaching career, Relaford was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 4th round of the 1991 MLB June Amateur Draft. He spent 11 seasons with seven different teams in Major League Baseball, including five years with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Throughout his career, Relaford hit .243 with 308 RBIs and finished the 2001 season with a career-best .302 average, as well as eight home runs and 36 RBIs for the Mets. Though he excelled at the plate, Relaford was also known for his versatility in the field. He played every position on defense except first base and catcher throughout his career and accumulated a .960 career fielding percentage.
“I want to thank USA Baseball, Major League Baseball, the Appalachian League and the City of Danville for the opportunity to work with, develop and mentor the future generation of professional athletes. It is an honor to be chosen to manage these young men,” Relaford said. “This league offers a much-needed outlet for players to continue their development, and who better to teach them than those who have been there and done it? I am excited to impart what I have learned in this game to these athletes by supplying them with the tools needed to progress as a professional in baseball and life.”
After retiring in 2008, Relaford started his own record label, 6 Hole Records, in Jacksonville before getting back into the game as a coach in 2018.
“I had the pleasure of spending the 2018 season watching Desi serve as an integral part of the Tortugas FSL Championship Series berth, and I could not be more excited to welcome him to Danville,” Otterbots general manager Austin Scher said. “Not only does his experience speak for itself, but his dedication to developing our players both on and off the field is extraordinary. Danville is lucky to have Desi at the helm as we head into the 2021 season.”
The Otterbots are set to begin the 2021 campaign Thursday, June 3, as the Pulaski River Turtles visit American Legion Post 325 Field at Dan Daniel Memorial Park in Danville.