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New coaches bring fresh outlook to Rangers

Woodward: 'When we interviewed them, they blew me away'
December 20, 2018

ARLINGTON -- Isiah Kiner-Falefa played in 111 games for the Rangers as a rookie last season. That means he has already played in more Major League games than any of the eight members of the Rangers' coaching staff.Now to say that Kiner-Falefa has more Major League experience than bench coach

ARLINGTON -- Isiah Kiner-Falefa played in 111 games for the Rangers as a rookie last season. That means he has already played in more Major League games than any of the eight members of the Rangers' coaching staff.
Now to say that Kiner-Falefa has more Major League experience than bench coach Don Wakamatsu -- who once managed the Mariners -- or long-time third-base coach Tony Beasley would be absurd. But that piece of esoterica underscores the unique nature of the Rangers' coaching staff.
This will be Luis Ortiz's first shot as a Major League hitting coach. Assistant hitting coach Callix Crabbe has never been a coach at the professional level, spending the past six years at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Pitching coach Julio Rangel and bullpen coach Oscar Marin have never been in the Major Leagues in any capacity as a player or a coach.
This staff -- which includes first-base coach Hector Ortiz and field coordinator Jayce Tingler -- is going to be quite different from any other assembled by a Rangers manager.
"We addressed it, it came up in conversation. It doesn't bother me," manager Chris Woodward said. "As a Major League player for a long time, the best coaches I had, most of them, never played in the big leagues or maybe played in the big leagues for a short amount of time.
"So I think it's the ability to connect, the quality of the person, the character of the person, the kind of coaching that we're trying to create and the knowledge base. These are some of the finest people I've ever been around. When we interviewed them, they blew me away, all of them."
These coaches are not without qualifications. Luis Ortiz was the assistant hitting coach with the Dodgers last season and has worked as a Minor League coordinator for the Padres, Indians and Rangers.
Rangel spent 11 years as a pitching instructor in the Indians' system, helping build one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Marin spent six years in the Rangers' system before serving as the Mariners' Minor League pitching coordinator the past two years.
They may never have been in the big leagues, but neither had Leo Mazzone before he became the Braves' pitching coach. The Braves won 14 division titles, five National League pennants and a World Series from 1990-2005 with Mazzone as pitching coach.
Rudy Jaramillo was the Rangers' hitting coach from 1995-2009 and is considered one of the best ever. Before he got his break as a Rangers Minor League instructor, he coached Little League in Dallas and the 1982 Sandy Koufax League world champions.
"When you can coach, you can coach," Luis Ortiz said. "At the end of the day, the qualities that make somebody very good at coaching will be people skills and being able to communicate, outwork everybody else, and I think this staff brings it."

Hitting and pitching coaches are to baseball what offensive and defensive coordinators are in football. They are the high-profile assistants who become targets for ridicule and scorn when things go bad.
Former pitching coach Doug Brocail was everybody's whipping boy when Rangers pitchers fell apart the past two years, even though he had nothing to do with player acquisition, injuries or the midseason trades last summer that decimated the staff.
But Rangel is about to deliver almost the same basic message as Brocail did to Rangers pitchers.
"I want to be a powerhouse," Rangel said. "I want guys who are going to be relentless and aggressive, and they are going to attack the zone consistently to get what we want. We are going to let everybody know who are the Texas Rangers. It's about being aggressive in the zone. It's hard to pitch when you are behind in the count."
There may be a subtle difference, but the Rangers are going to hear much of the same things from Rangel as they did from Brocail, Mike Maddux and others who took on the daunting task of being the Texas pitching coach.
Luis Ortiz played for the Rangers from 1995-96, and Jaramillo was the hitting coach. Jaramillo was still there in 2008 when Ortiz got his first job as a Minor League hitting instructor. There is new information and technology available, but often this comes down to the same approach to pitching and hitting that has worked in the past.
Much of coaching is not about experience or high-tech information, but being able to gain players' confidence and get through to them in a way that will make them successful.
That's what will make the Rangers' staff successful -- not their resumes.
"When you hear these guys speak and you hear how they communicate, I know as a former player, that this is going to resonate," Woodward said. "These guys are going to buy into this. Sometimes the best players arguably make not the best coaches, just because they have a hard time explaining. They have a hard time understanding that guys can't do what they used to do.
"When you're a lesser player or maybe a Minor Leaguer or kind of like myself, where you're a below-average big league player, you have to grind so hard, you have to learn about everything. So I think that our staff is obviously a very diverse staff, very knowledgeable staff. I think our players are really going to enjoy the time that they spend with them and learn a lot from them."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.