George Lombard was one of the first names to emerge in the Tigers' managerial search a month ago. The former Tigers outfielder is now headed back to Detroit to become A.J. Hinch’s bench coach.
In addition, the Tigers have hired veteran coaches Scott Coolbaugh as hitting coach and Chip Hale as third-base coach. Coupled with Friday’s hirings of pitching coach Chris Fetter and assistant pitching coach Juan Nieves, plus the return of first-base coach Ramon Santiago and quality control coach Josh Paul, the moves nearly fill out Hinch’s staff, with only assistant hitting coach left to go.
“Adding coaches with high levels of experience both developing teams and leading in the postseason is important as we establish a culture for winning baseball here in Detroit,” Hinch said in a statement. “I’m confident these three additions will complement what’s already a strong coaching staff, and we’re excited to begin working with the players soon.”
Though Lombard fell short in the Tigers’ managerial race, he is making a major move to bolster his case for a future managerial job after five seasons as Dodgers first-base coach. The 45-year-old brings an impressive background in player development, from his playing career as a former top prospect and parts of six big league seasons to his ascent through the Minor Leagues as a coach and instructor. He managed for three seasons in the Red Sox's farm system and later worked as an outfield and baserunning coordinator, overseeing Mookie Betts’ transition from second base to the outfield in the process. Lombard earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2015.
Coolbaugh spent this past season as assistant hitting coach with the White Sox, and he previously served as a hitting coach in Baltimore (2015-18) and Texas (2011-12). Before that, he played 167 Major League games over parts of four seasons in Texas, San Diego and St. Louis. The 56-year-old will be tasked with helping ignite an offense that has struggled with strikeouts the last couple of seasons and needs to produce young hitters in the years to come.
Hale could be a particularly key hire, having just parted ways with the Nationals after serving as Dave Martinez’s bench coach for the 2019 World Series champions. The 55-year-old Hale served as D-backs manager in 2015-16, sandwiched between two stints on Oakland’s coaching staff. He also worked as Mets third-base coach in 2010-11. His work ethic has earned him high regard in baseball circles.