Crew hires Timmons, Dawson for hitting post

November 12th, 2021

Reflecting the ever-more complicated nature of coaching, the Brewers announced Thursday they'd hired co-hitting coaches in Ozzie Timmons and Connor Dawson, with the intention to add an additional assistant hitting coach for the Major League staff in the coming weeks.

The days of this being a one-person job are over.

Dawson, 28, comes with a technical background from the Mariners’ system while Timmons, 51, brings a wealth of professional playing and coaching experience. The former Rays first-base coach may be best known for doing 10 push-ups for each run scored by Tampa Bay in the past four seasons, which translated to quite a workout for a team that ranked second in the Majors at 5.29 runs per game in 2021.

Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns called the duo "two coaches who are distinguished and established in different ways. Connor is widely considered as one of the up-and-coming young hitting coaches in the industry and was widely recommended from a number of different sources. As we got to meet him, he clearly demonstrated that he's ready for this step in his career. Ozzie is a very well known, experienced coach and a former Major League player. He's had a lot of experience helping the Tampa Bay Rays develop into a really sound and effective offensive unit.

"Combining those two skill sets and those two coaches to lead our Major League hitters and our Major League offense is a very exciting development for us."

The avalanche of information and video makes the job of a hitting coach more complex by the year. For decades, teams had only one hitting coach on the big league staff. Now it's at least a two-person job everywhere, including in Milwaukee beginning two years ago.

"What we are doing is really a recognition that this has transformed into a very big job," Stearns said. "Over the last three to five years, as information continues to proliferate our game, we're asking more and more of our coaches in general and that's certainly true of our hitting coaches. Allowing Connor and Ozzie to split up responsibilities of the head hitting coach and collectively lead our group, then supporting them with a yet-to-be-hired assistant, we think that's the right structure for us now. I think we're going to see other teams in the industry follow similar structures in the not-too-distant future so we think this is the right way to go."

Timmons and Dawson both said their first priority is to listen, to each other as they build rapport, and then with players as they begin to understand what they are working with. That process is just beginning for the duo after what Timmons described as an exhaustive hiring process including interviews with at least six club officials.

"It’s going to be great because you have two different thought processes," said Timmons, who intends to retire the pushup routine and come up with a different scoring celebration in Milwaukee. "As long as we communicate and work together to make guys better, that’s the key. There’s a lot of ways to skin a cat. If Connor has a way to get to a guy, that’s great. If I have a way to get to a guy, we’ll work together. We’ll always communicate and come up with a plan for everyone."

Timmons added: "Connor is kind of new school and I’m a little bit old school. We can combine it together and make the Brewers roll. That’s the plan."

The duo will replace hitting coach Andy Haines, whose contract was not renewed last month after the Brewers’ offense faded down the stretch and in the postseason against the Braves. Jacob Cruz, the Brewers' assistant hitting coach for the past two seasons, is a candidate for that position, though the team has yet to finalize whether Cruz will be back in 2022.

The Brewers are still discussing what type of profile they want in the assistant hitting coach job, according to Stearns.

"We’re going to talk a little bit more extensively with Connor and Ozzie to figure that out," Stearns said. "We want them to be a partner as part of this process and we’re just now turning our attention to that side of things.”

Timmons was Tampa Bay’s first-base coach and assistant hitting coach from the end of 2017 through the 2021 season, and he also instructed the team’s outfielders and baserunners. Before his time on the big league staff, Timmons was a hitting coach in the Rays' farm system at four affiliates from the Class A to Triple-A levels over 11 seasons from 2007-17. The former outfielder played 16 professional seasons, including Major League stints during five seasons with the Cubs, Reds, Mariners and Rays.

All told, Timmons hit 301 professional homers during a career that included time in the Minors, the Majors, independent ball, Mexico and Japan.

“I was going through a lot of stuff at Double-A, and Ozzie was the one who made me feel comfortable,’’ Rays pitcher Blake Snell told the Tampa Bay Times last year. “He really taught me how to have fun while playing the game and still being focused and competing. That’s who he is. He loves being here, he loves working, he loves talking to the fans, he’s just always in a happy mood.”

Said Stearns: "I think the goal is to allow each coach to gravitate to the areas where they're strong. Ozzie comes to us with a reputation as a very established hitting coach, someone who's a great connector with players, someone who can provide perspective of what it's like to be in a Major League [batter's] box and someone who has developed tremendous relationships with players throughout his career. Connor comes to us with the skill set that's developed perhaps a little more technically, learning the technical side of hitting; having a little bit more familiarity with some of the informational aspects and some of the technical aspects that have emerged on our scene over the last couple of years. We think those skill sets will complement each other really well."

Dawson came to the Brewers from the Mariners, where he was most recently Minor League hitting coordinator last season. He also worked in 2019 as hitting coach at Rookie-level Arizona and spent the 2020 season as hitting strategist at the team’s alternate training site.

Before that, Dawson was hitting coach and pitching coach at Marshalltown (Iowa) Community College.

"I’m relatively new to professional baseball," Dawson said. "Having a guy like Ozzie with his experience as a player and coach is invaluable. His wisdom complements what I bring to the table and makes us a great pairing, and really good teammates in this endeavor. ... It comes down to listening to start, just what Ozzie said."

Dawson made a strong early impression.

"It didn't take long in any of our conversations with Connor to recognize that he has, one, an insatiable passion for hitting and has invested a ton of time learning and is very open-minded and growth-oriented in terms of what he can learn in the future," Stearns said. "And then beyond that, you talk to players and coaches and staff members who have worked with him, and, universally, he has been praised for how he can help hitters, how hitters relate to him and his ability to implement different programming into his training techniques."

Pending the addition of an assistant hitting coach, the rest of manager Craig Counsell’s Major League coaching staff is set. It is to include bench coach Pat Murphy (going into his seventh season with the Brewers), third-base coach Jason Lane (seventh season), pitching coach Chris Hook (fourth season), bullpen coach Steve Karsay (fourth season), associate pitching, catching and strategy coach Walker McKinven (third season), first-base coach Quintin Berry (second season), bullpen catcher Néstor Corredor (second season) and bullpen catcher Adam Weisenburger (second season).