Padres announce 2024 Major League coaching staff

Rodriguez, Leiper join organization; Shildt won't have bench coach

January 3rd, 2024

SAN DIEGO -- Padres manager Mike Shildt finalized his coaching staff on Wednesday, welcoming newcomers Victor Rodriguez (hitting coach) and Tim Leiper (third-base coach) to the organization while promoting Mike McCoy and Pat O'Sullivan to assistant hitting coaches and Ryan Barba to Major League field coordinator.

Notably, Shildt's staff does not include anyone with the title of "bench coach," a role he said would be split among several different staffers.

Here's the 2024 Padres' staff in full:

  • Ruben Niebla: Pitching coach
  • Ben Fritz: Bullpen coach
  • Tim Leiper: Third-base coach, infield and baserunning instructor
  • David Macias: First-base coach, outfield and baserunning instructor
  • Victor Rodriguez: Hitting coach
  • Mike McCoy: Assistant hitting coach
  • Pat O’Sullivan: Assistant hitting coach
  • Brian Esposito: Catching coach, game-strategy assistant
  • Ryan Barba: Major League field coordinator
  • Peter Summerville: Game-planning and coaching assistant
  • Heberto Andrade: Bullpen catcher, coaching assistant
  • Morgan Burkhart: Major League coaching assistant

How will the Padres split bench coaching duties?
"It's an untraditional way of looking at it," Shildt acknowledged. "It's a very deep staff that's very high baseball IQ-ed. ... We looked at it in a holistic fashion and looked at what the job’s descriptions are across the board and looked across the strengths and skill sets [of our coaches].”

Shildt went on to explain the specific roles of the men who will help to fill that capacity. Niebla is Shildt's right-hand man for pitching decisions. The hitting-coach group will be in charge of prepping pinch-hitters. Barba will handle field coordination and pregame duties that typically fall to a bench coach. Esposito, newly given the title of game strategy assistant, will be Shildt's right-hand man for in-game strategy decisions.

But what would happen if Shildt were to be ejected from a game or unable to manage?

"That would never happen, I'm there to manage 162-plus," Shildt quipped. He then acknowledged "a two-headed deal" that would see Esposito and Niebla share in-game manager duties.

Three newcomers as hitting coaches
For a second consecutive year, the Padres will approach the hitting side with three coaches -- all of whom are new to the Major League staff.

Rodriguez takes over at the helm of that group after Ryan Flaherty departed to become the Cubs' bench coach. The 62-year-old veteran Rodriguez will be embarking on his 48th season in professional baseball. He spent the past six years as assistant hitting coach in Cleveland and the five years before that in the same role with Boston.

McCoy and O'Sullivan join Rodriguez in working with the team's hitters. Both have spent the past several years coaching in the Padres' system -- McCoy most recently as the team's Minor League hitting coordinator and O'Sullivan as the hitting coach at Double-A San Antonio.

Given the rate of turnover from past Padres hitting coaches -- and the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park -- it's an undeniably tough job. But Shildt clearly believes he's got the right trio in place.

"Man, I am super pumped about this group," Shildt said.  "What I like about all of them ... is the approach to how to actually win baseball games. Situational hitting is important, grinding out tough at-bats, being prepared, having to have an understanding of what they're going to see, how to execute it."

Promoting from within was important to Shildt
Shildt spent the past two seasons as an advisor in the organization, and while he spent most of his time with the big league club, the role also afforded him a chance to become familiar with different levels of the system.

Which, ultimately, is part of the reason McCoy, O'Sullivan and Barba ended up on Shildt's staff.

"We talked a fair amount this offseason about organizational alignment, and we wanted to make sure we're putting our proverbial money where our mouth is," Shildt said. "We've got three exceptional guys that have done a tremendous job internally."

It can't hurt, of course, that the Padres -- with a revamped farm system -- are expected to lean on some of their up-and-coming prospects this season.

"Having some familiarity with Mac, Sully and Barbs ... when they come up, there's that continuity, familiarity and trust that's already established," Shildt said.

If it ain’t broke …
Niebla's return was reported months ago in the aftermath of Bob Melvin's departure. But Shildt still felt it prudent to take some time Wednesday to express his pleasure at having last season's pitching staff back, including bullpen coach Fritz and game-planning assistant Summerville.

"It's an exceptionally talented group," Shildt said. "Ruben is an exceptionally gifted pitching coach. He's got a lot of dimensions and depth to him. He's done a fantastic job his two years. And it's a group that has a lot of processes in place that clearly work."

Those processes will be tested, with the Padres having overhauled their pitching staff this winter. They've seen the departures of Blake Snell and Josh Hader -- who are still free agents -- as well as Michael Wacha, Seth Lugo and Nick Martinez. They've also seen the arrivals of a handful of young arms, most notably the group of four pitchers who were acquired in the Juan Soto trade.