The departure of Mark McGwire and dismissal of Matt Stairs and Josh Johnson left a few holes on the Padres coaching staff going into 2019. Speculation on who would take their place ended yesterday with a rather quiet announcement from the team via their social media channels.
The least surprising promotion is that of Rod Barajas from manager of Padres AAA affiliate El Paso Chihuahuas to the bench coach position vacated by McGwire in the beginning of October. Barajas takes the bench after rising through the coaching rankings in the Padres organization, seeing time in Peoria, Lake Elsinore and San Antonio. The promotion of Barajas to second in command should provide a familiar face to many of the incoming minor league players expected to break into the big leagues this year and in coming years. Many Twitter pundits also applaud the fact that Barajas is bilingual (while questioning if Andy Green is) and should be able to connect easily with a roster that features many Latin American players.
Tim Hagerty, the voice of the Chihuahuas, offered his thoughts to the El Paso Times regarding Rod’s promotion:
“Just reading reports out of San Diego, a big part of Rod getting the opportunity was he has worked with the nucleus of the team in the minor leagues and has that familiarity with them. Rod has a great personality. He’s nice, he’s outgoing. I remember after the 2017 championship series vs. Memphis and the team had just lost the fifth and deciding game and he was smiling and talking about the game. Whether it’s a loss in the playoffs or a win in May, Rod has the same personality and that’s a great trait to have in baseball because you play so many games.”
The hitting coach vacancy has also been filled with a familiar face. Johnny Washington will remove the assistant tag from his title and become the hitting coach for the team. Though Washington is one of the youngest coaches in baseball at age 34 he’s been in the coaching circuit since 2010 and with the Padres since 2016.
Washington’s assistant hitting coach will also assume infield coaching duties and may overshadow Johnny on name recognition alone. Damion Easley, former MLB All-Star and Silver Slugger (both in 1998) will join the Padres coaching staff after coaching within the Padres system as rehab hitting coach in Peoria for 7 years. You might remember Easley best during his peak as the Detroit Tigers’ second baseman in the beginning of the millennium.
The coaching roster has now been rounded out for 2019 and will feature Darren Balsley as the longest tenured pitching coach in the National League, third base mainstay Glenn Hoffman, bullpen coach Doug Bochtler, and Skip Schumaker going into his 2nd year as first base coach.