By the end of the 2021 season, Detroit Tigers’ hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh appeared to be sitting in the catbird’s seat, having gotten career best seasons out of most of his veteran hitters. One year later and Coolbaugh was persona non grata after a brutal reversal of fortune for those same hitters. Such is the life of a hitting coach.
New President of Baseball Operations, Scott Harris, has made it plain that he and manager A.J. Hinch wanted to forge a different approach to coaching and developing hitters. Today Harris made major moves toward that end, hiring three new hitting coaches for the major league staff.
The most immediately notable of these hires is Michael Brdar, who along with Keith Beauregard, will be a tandem of hitting coaches, with James Rowson as assistant hitting coach. Brdar is a pretty interesting choice as a 28-year-old hitting coach who led the San Diego Padres offense in 2022. That the Tigers were able to lure him away shows some commitment to landing the guy they wanted. However, the many ties Brdar has to the Tigers’ leadership presumably made this a bit easier.
Brdar is a California native who studied economics and played baseball at the University of Michigan, and his path there crossed with Tigers’ head pitching coach Chris Fetter. After a year of minor league ball in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, Brdar went into coaching. He worked as a program assistant for U of M baseball for two seasons. He was hired by the San Francisco Giants during Harris’ tenure as general manager as a minor league hitting coordinator, before being hired as major league hitting coach for the Padres after the 2021 season.
With Brdar will come two more experienced coaches. Beauregard graduated from Leominster High in Leominster, Massachusetts back in 2001 and played college ball for St. Anselm College before playing independent league ball for a few years. He found his way into coaching and was the assistant baseball coach at Santa Clara University for five seasons. Eventually Beauregard was hired as a minor league hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and was promoted to assistant minor league field coordinator in 2021. Harris and A.J. Hinch have both talked about building out the coaching staff. Now the Tigers will have two major league hitting coaches and an assistant.
46-year-old James Rowson was drafted back in 1994 by the Seattle Mariners and played in the minors for a few seasons before embarking on to a 20 year career in coaching. He was the minor league hitting coordinator for the New York Yankees from 2008-2011, before he was hired by the Chicago Cubs. Rowson took over as head hitting coach for the Cubs in June of 2012, but wasn’t retained in the role and returned to the Yankees as minor league coordinator until he was hired as the major league hitting coach for the Minnesota Twins back in 2017. After the 2019 season, Rowson left to join the Miami Marlins. He’s been the Marlins bench coach and their de facto lead hitting coach ever since.
(1/2) The Tigers announced that Michael Brdar (Major League Hitting Coach), Keith Beauregard (Major League Hitting Coach), James Rowson (Assistant Major League Hitting Coach) and Robin Lund (Assistant Major League Pitching Coach) will all join the coaching staff in 2023.— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) November 15, 2022
The Tigers promised to expand their coaching staff to try and add different perspectives and areas of responsibility, and they followed through here. We’ll have to see what the division of labor is once the club returns to action. Also unsurprising are the ties to the Cubs, Dodgers, and Giants. Overall it’s hard to say much but on the surface this looks like a good group of coaching talent with a mix of youth and experience.
The Tigers also officially announced the hiring of assistant pitching coach, Robin Lund, which was reported back on November 7.
Tigers hire Ryne Eubanks as Head Athletic Trainer
With Doug Teter moving to the Lakeland complex, the team needed a new head athletic trainer, and they announced the hire of Ryne Eubanks to the role on Tuesday. Eubanks was the assistant athletic trainer for the Arizona Diamondbacks over the last three seasons, and spent the six seasons prior as a trainer and medical coordinator in the Diamondbacks’ farm system. He has both a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Science, and a master’s in athletic training from the University of Arkansas.
If you’re a strength and conditioning coach, the Tigers are still hiring.