There’s an old baseball adage that says great players don’t always make great coaches.
It goes with the line of thinking that great players are often so athletically gifted, they can’t always understand why other players aren’t as good, as smart or as gifted as themselves.
But new Indians manager Manny Acta doesn’t buy that old baseball hogwash – at least not when it comes to Sandy Alomar Jr.
In bucking the unspoken rule, Acta named the former Indians All-Star catcher as the Tribe’s first base coach for the 2010 season.
“There are guys who can be great players and great coaches,” Acta said. “And I think (Alomar's) one of them.”
There’s no doubt about the former, as the 43-year-old Alomar was the 1990 Rookie of the Year, a six-time American League All-Star and ranks third all-time in club history with 950 games spanning 11 seasons with the Indians (1990-2000).
During that time, Alomar batted .277 with 194 doubles, 92 home runs and 453 RBI while serving as the Indians field leader behind the plate on club that won five A.L. Central Division titles and two A.L. Pennants.
But how does Acta know such personal success will translate into helping others become successful?
“I know what kind of guy (Alomar) is,” said Acta, who got to know Alomar Jr. while serving on a Mets coaching staff with Sandy Alomar Sr. for two seasons. “He’s a guy who has potential to do whatever he wants to do in this game.”
And what that’s been the last few years is coach, as Alomar has spent the last two seasons serving as the major league catching instructor for the New York Mets – a similar role he will also undertake in Cleveland, where he is expected to mentor and instruct Indians catchers in addition to his first-base coaching duties.
Alomar joins a staff that already includes pitching coach Tim Belcher, and recently-named bench coach Tim Tolman, bullpen coach Scott Radinsky and infield/ third base Coach Steve Smith.
With the addition of Alomar, who is already an Indians Hall of Famer, Acta now has just one final spot to fill on the Tribe’s major league staff - that of hitting coach.
Acta confirmed he is scheduled to fly to Venezuela the first week of December to meet with candidates, presumably Jon Nunnally (who last year served as the hitting coach at Triple-A Columbus) and/or Dave Hudges (the Indians minor league field coordinator), both of whom are currently coaching for Caracas of the Venezuelan Winter League.
“It’s been a busy, productive month,” Acta said. “We’ve got one more decision to make before we head into the winter meetings.”