Kuntz returns as KC names coaching staff

January 22nd, 2021

After a year away from the field, Rusty Kuntz will return to the Royals dugout in 2021. Mike Matheny’s coaching staff in his second year as the Royals’ manager includes longtime coach Kuntz as the first-base coach and the addition of Tony Peña Jr. as a coach.

Bench coach Pedro Grifol, hitting coach Terry Bradshaw, pitching coach Cal Eldred, bullpen coach Larry Carter, third-base coach Vance Wilson and coach John Mabry will all remain in their roles from last season, the Royals announced Friday afternoon.

Kuntz, 65, did not coach on the field in 2020 because of COVID-19 concerns, instead serving as an advisor to Matheny and Royals general manager Dayton Moore and working with players by Zoom. Kuntz had returned to the Major League staff when Matheny was hired as manager after the two got to know each other while serving in advisory roles with the Royals in 2018.

Now, the fan favorite — regarded throughout the industry as an outfield guru — will be back in the clubhouse and at first base in 2021. This will be his third stint as the first-base coach, a title he previously held from 2012-17 and 2008-10.

Damon Hollins, who filled in for Kuntz last year, will return to his position as a Minor League instructor.

Peña Jr. will work primarily with the infielders. He’s followed in his father’s footsteps, joining the Kansas City dugout after Tony Peña Sr. managed the Royals from 2002-05. Peña Jr. was slated to be the Triple-A Omaha bench coach and manager at the Royals’ Rookie-level affiliate in 2020, before the Minor League season was cancelled. This will be his first year on the Major League staff; he began managing in the Royals' farm system following his playing career, which included three seasons with Kansas City (2007-09).

Rafael Belliard, who served as an infield coach last year, will return to his previous role as a special assistant to the general manager.