Tigers name Fields Minors hitting coordinator
It's not just a homecoming. It's a family reunion. He'll be working with his son, Daniel, who finished last season as an outfielder at Double-A Erie and is ranked as the No. 7 prospect in the Tigers' system.
"I'm glad to be back. It's home," Fields told MLB.com in a phone interview.
It'll be some familiar territory he's covering. As a player, Fields spent most of his 14-year career in the Tigers' farm system, getting a stint in Detroit in 1986. As a manager, he got his start at Class A Jamestown before getting a promotion to Triple-A Toledo. He coached current Tigers Omar Infante and Ramon Santiago at Class A West Michigan.
Both of those players were on the roster when Fields got his shot in the big leagues as Tigers hitting coach and later bench coach under then-manager Alan Trammell from 2003-05. Fields wasn't retained when Jim Leyland replaced Trammell, but rebounded quickly with a job as hitting instructor in the Indians' farm system.
His work there led to a job as hitting coach in Cleveland under manager Manny Acta. Once the Indians replaced Acta with Terry Francona in October, Fields was looking for an opportunity.
He found it with the Tigers, who needed a hitting coordinator once they updated Toby Harrah's title to assistant hitting coach with the big league club, a job he essentially had filled since last summer.
"This is just a great opportunity for me to come back, especially with the window [to contend]," Fields said. "Now that window is here."
The timing allows Fields a chance to work with his son, a sixth-round pick of the Tigers in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. When the elder Fields was coaching in Detroit, he'd have his sons around the park to hit early before the big leaguers took the field. Now, his son Daniel is a pro himself, having followed Tigers postseason hero Avisail Garcia and top prospect Nick Castellanos up the ladder.
Fields has coached his son for years, of course. The fact that it's now in a work capacity puts a new spin on it.
"It'll obviously be a challenging situation -- that father-son, coach-player dynamic," he said. "But our dynamic is strong. Whereas some people I know say they have a hard time coaching their children, my son listens. We might not see eye to eye on everything, but they'll listen. Both my sons are good that way. There won't be any issues that way.
"... If he can play, he'll play. If he can't, he can't. So he decides his fate. I'm just happy to have a chance to have an impact."