Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018
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Mud Hens coaching staff announced

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    Mud Hens pitching coach Jeff Pico talks with pitcher Thad Weber between innings of a 2016 game, while trainer Chris McDonald (in white shirt) watches the action. Both Pico and McDonald will return to Toledo's staff in 2018.


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    Mud Hens hitting coach Brian Harper, right, talks with former manager Mike Rojas behind the batting cage prior to last year's home opener. Harper will return to Toledo for his second season in 2018.


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    Mud Hens relief pitcher Jairo Labourt (left) talks with third base coach Basilio Cabrera (helmet) last season. Cabrera will return as Toledo's third-base coach in 2018.



    Mud Hens' strength coach Fred Murphy will return to the team in 2018.



While the Mud Hens will have a new manager in 2018, the rest of the coaching staff will return from last season.

The Detroit Tigers announced Thursday that Jeff Pico will return as pitching coach, Brian Harper will be back as hitting coach, and Basilio Cabrera will return as third-base coach. Chris McDonald remains the team’s trainer while Fred Murphy will be back as strength and conditioning coach under new manager Doug Mientkiewicz.

Pico will begin his third season with the Mud Hens in 2018. He pitched in the majors for the Chicago Cubs from 1988-90, and he was most notably the pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds from 2014-15.

RELATED: Ex-Cubs coach finds niche as pitching coach (from 2016)

Harper will enter his second season as Toledo’s hitting coach this year. He played in the major leagues for seven different teams, including the Tigers, from 1979-95 and has been a minor-league manager and hitting coach.

RELATED: Harper helps Hens focus on pitchers, not technique (from 2017)

Cabrera will serve as the Hens’ third-base coach for the third straight season. Cabrera played in the minors for the Tigers from 1986-92 and has been a manager and coach in the Detroit farm system since 1993.

McDonald will begin his fifth season with the Mud Hens in 2018. A Bowling Green State University graduate, McDonald is in his 18th season in the Tigers organization, including eight seasons with Double-A Erie.

Murphy will begin his fourth year as Toledo’s strength and conditional coach. The Western Michigan graduate has worked for Detroit for eight seasons, spending four years with the SeaWolves before joining the Mud Hens staff in 2015.

There also are a number of Mud Hens alumni on the coaching staffs at the lower levels of Detroit’s system. Double-A Erie will be managed by former Hen Andrew Graham, while all-time Toledo home run leader Mike Hessman will jump to this level to serve as the SeaWolves hitting coach. Former Tigers pitcher Willie Blair will return as pitching coach.

Another former Hen, Mike Rabelo, will manage at High-A Lakeland after he was named Midwest League manager of the year at Low-A West Michigan last season. His pitching coach will be Mark Johnson, another former Toledo pitcher.

West Michigan’s new manager is former Tigers and Mud Hens catcher Lance Parrish, while another former Tigers catcher, Gerald Laird, will return as manager at Short Season Connecticut.

Earlier this week, the Kansas City Royals announced that Mike Rojas, who managed the Mud Hens last season, would become the manager of their Double-A club, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals of the Texas League.

Contact John Wagner at jwagner@theblade.com419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.

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