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Rays finalize coaching staff with three hires

MLB.com @RichardJustice

The Rays completed their Major League coaching staff on Tuesday with three additions, including the naming of Jonathan Erlichman to the newly created position of process and analytics coach. In addition, Paul Hoover was named the Major League field coordinator and Justin Su'a the Major League mental skills coach.

The Rays earlier had hired Rodney Linares from the Astros system to be their third-base coach as part of a shakeup necessitated by two members of the 2018 staff becoming Major League managers. (Rocco Baldelli was hired by the Twins, Charlie Montoyo by the Blue Jays.)

The Rays completed their Major League coaching staff on Tuesday with three additions, including the naming of Jonathan Erlichman to the newly created position of process and analytics coach. In addition, Paul Hoover was named the Major League field coordinator and Justin Su'a the Major League mental skills coach.

The Rays earlier had hired Rodney Linares from the Astros system to be their third-base coach as part of a shakeup necessitated by two members of the 2018 staff becoming Major League managers. (Rocco Baldelli was hired by the Twins, Charlie Montoyo by the Blue Jays.)

"We're very excited," manager Kevin Cash said. "'Unexpected' is not the right word with losing Rocco and Charlie. I don't know if any of us was totally prepared to lose two great people. But we've done a great job replacing them with really quality people."

Erlichman, 28, has been with the Rays for six seasons, including the last two as director of analytics "overseeing the club's research efforts and coordinating improvements to decision-making processes," the team said in a statement.

Erlichman, who has a degree in mathematics from Princeton, joined the Rays as an intern in January 2013 and has steadily climbed the organizational ladder. He will not be in the dugout during games; details of the position will be ironed out over the coming months.

"He just gives us a different perspective," Cash said. "He's going to make me better and the staff better. He's going to continue to challenge us in ways that maybe we've overlooked. He can sit back and give us another way to utilize a lot of information. I look at things he has taught me, the outside perspective. He's going to do a good job challenging the way we go about our process and evaluate our decisions, whether in-game or preparation."

Hoover, 42, replaces Baldelli to fill a role created for the 2018 season. He spent the last six seasons as the Rays' Minor League catching coordinator and managed the team's Gulf Coast League team in 2012.

He was a 23rd-round Draft choice of the Rays in 1997 out of Kent State and appeared in 40 Major League games for the Rays, Marlins and Phillies between 2001 and 2010.

"[It's] just the work he has done with our catching corps and the buy-in he had with our front office and the relationships he has built," Cash said of Hoover. "Ask any catcher he has come across, and there's a pretty consistent message about how instrumental he has been. Now he's going to get an opportunity at the big league level, not just with catchers but in helping us coordinate things that can fall through the cracks."

Su'a, 36, comes to the Rays after four seasons as Boston's mental skills coordinator. He has also spent the last three seasons as the mental performance coach of the Cleveland Browns. He had similar roles with the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and the Army. He pitched at BYU and has a master's in sports psychology from the University of Utah.

With Hoover's hiring, four of Cash's seven coaches played for the Rays in either the Majors or the Minors. Pitching coach Kyle Snyder was a Rays Minor League coach for six seasons.

"I think it's huge," Cash said. "It brings the organization together. We don't do that because they'd been in our organization. We do it because they're the right people. Huge credit to our player development people and front office. They hire people and take the time to help them get better regardless of the position."

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

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