Fredi G. surrounded by ex-managers on Braves staff

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – When Fredi Gonzalez began his first job as a major league manager five years ago, having five former big-league managers on his spring training coaching staff might have seemed intimidating. Maybe unbearable.

Hitting coach Larry Parrish and bench coach Carlos Tosca are two of five former major league managers around Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez on the the spring-training coach staff. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Hitting coach Larry Parrish and bench coach Carlos Tosca are two of five former major league managers around Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez on the the spring-training coach staff. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

“Probably — I’m not going to lie to you,” said Gonzalez, now in his first season as Braves manager after 3-1/2 seasons as Marlins manager. “But you know what, these guys are good people. Two or three of them don’t want to manage again. Maybe LP, Carlos and Tremb are guys who deserve another opportunity [to manage].”

LP is Larry Parrish, the Braves’ new hitting coach. Carlos Tosca is the new bench coach, who served in that same role under Gonzalez in Florida before they were fired in June. Tremb is Dave Trembley, the Braves’ new minor league field coordinator.

All are in the army of coaches in Braves camp, along with the venerable duo of Lee Elia, a special assistant to general manager Frank Wren, and Jimy Williams, who has served as a special instructor in spring training with the Braves for years.

“That’s experience,” said Gonzalez, 47, who managed the Marlins for 3-1/2 seasons. “But you’re absolutely right. Four years ago you come in and look at that roster and there’s five ex-major league managers – plus we forgot Jim Fregosi, so that’s six – you looked that and you’d be kind of worried. Four or five years ago, you’re worried.

“But after going through it four years, I better view them as helpful.”

Gonzalez has also  encouraged as much involvement as possible from his old boss Bobby Cox, the retired Braves manager who’s in camp as an advisor. He’s asked Cox to put the uniform on at least briefly this spring, and Cox said he might for a day or two.

“He’s been down that road before, and I think Fredi has a lot of confidence,” said Trembley, a former Orioles manager. “He wants as many people as he possibly can get to help the players. That’s what Fredi Gonzalez is all about. So I think we’re all fortunate to be here. Very fortunate.

“I think experience counts, and there’s a lot of young players here in camp. Those are the guys that really benefit the most. The veterans know how to take care of themselves and get ready, but I think you get as much experience as you can in major league camp to help the young players.”

Fregosi is special assistant to Braves general manager Frank Wren, and served in that same capacity when John Schuerholz was GM.

“It’s pretty awesome to have that many people to turn to,” Braves catcher Brian McCann said. “It’s a lot of guys who are passionate about the team, passionate about helping out, passionate about baseball. Good guys like that, it rubs off on people.”

In all, there were seven former major league managers walking around the backfields at Braves spring training on Wednesday, Cox and Fregosi in street clothes, the others in uniform.

“What makes it unique is, there’s no egos,” said veteran pitcher Derek Lowe. “Roger [McDowell, pitching coach] doesn’t care if you go ask the Double-A pitching coach something. Larry Parrish isn’t going to care if you talk to Lee Elia, who’s been in the game 50 years or whatever it is. Or to [special instructor] Bobby Dews.”

Most of them are far from wallflowers. There are some big personalities in this bunch.

Parrish is a towering figure with a booming voice and a bold, white goatee. Fregosi is another big man whose presence – and voice — fills a room the minute he enters.

Cox is an icon, commanding attention even when he’s trying not to — when he’s sitting in a covered golf cart 30 feet behind Gonzalez at the batting cage, as he was Wednesday.

All seven of these guys have managed major league teams, and most of them did it for a lot longer than Gonzalez has. For the first time at spring training, the Braves are using all the backfields as well as the stadium at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.

“Every field you’re on, you have ‘Los [Carlos Tosca], or you have Trembley, all these guys,” said right-handed pitching prospect Cory Gearrin, who is in his first major league camp. “There’s always somebody there, so if you have a question, you’re getting the most expert advice you can get.

“As a younger guy I just want to pick their brain on the little things. It’s a huge advantage. The comfort you can have in knowing that you can be confident in these answers, knowing they’re major league managers. There’s no other place you can go to get better advice. It feels good as a player to be able to go out there and know that.”

Wherever they are at Braves camp this spring, players don’t have to go far to find a former major league manager to run something past.

“Those guys are here to help out,” Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said. “They’ve all been there before, so if a young guy wants to pick anybody’s brain, it’s not going to do anything but benefit him. Any time you’ve got five former managers helping out – I mean, they were managers for a reason.”

52 comments Add your comment

Dave

February 23rd, 2011
6:12 pm

Dave

February 23rd, 2011
6:12 pm

sweeeeet…go Braves

O'flarity's water bottle

February 23rd, 2011
6:25 pm

Sounds awesome! Go Braves!

collegeballfan

February 23rd, 2011
6:29 pm

Nice column DOB. This is a perspective about Gonzalez I had not thought about.

Mcmann

February 23rd, 2011
7:06 pm

man man man man man…..
Hey DOB when are you gonna do an expanded story on Larry Parrish? It’d be nice to know what all the players think of him so far!

evrdayjonny

February 23rd, 2011
7:22 pm

DOB, nice write-up! You are out doing yourself this spring my friend. Keep em coming.I learn something new every day. That’s gotta be like 250 years of baseball knowledge with these guys. Impressive staff to say the least. Can hardly wait….GO BRAVES

BRAVO MAN

February 23rd, 2011
7:32 pm

Imagine if we could buy alcohol on SUNDAY…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TOM_UuQzc0

Piedmont Blues

February 23rd, 2011
7:45 pm

Great blog, DOB. The Braves did pretty doggone well when Bobby had Jimy Williams and Pat Corrales on his staff. Having that kind of experience around is invaluable.

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Doug Rice

February 23rd, 2011
8:19 pm

I really like Gonzalez’s style in the early going, I feel strangly optomistic.

mayor of ponce

February 23rd, 2011
8:56 pm

Slow down DOB. Take a break, games haven’t even started yet, man.

In all your hustle, you probably forgot to tivo Letterman last night.

ATL represent- http://stereogum.com/645172/expanded-deerhunter-do-letterman/video/

*pretty cool at the end when Dave points at Cole from Black lips, “good to have you here too”

Mcmann

February 23rd, 2011
9:58 pm

man man man man man…

Fredi Gonzalez afresh,
Bobby Cox agone.
The Braves will run away with the eastern division!

Billy Jack's Barbecue & Shrimp Co

February 23rd, 2011
10:25 pm

DOB, must be working on commish. Getting paid by the word AND quality. Every blog is packed with info. Ditto to find out more about Larry Parrish.

Brave4life-1995 all over again??

February 23rd, 2011
11:53 pm

HANK AARON on David Letterman

Ruffio

February 24th, 2011
12:18 am

I did not realize Jimmy Williams was back in the Braves organization. He was by far the best third base and defensive coach the Braves ever had. I wish there was a way to get him in the Major League dugout. He was good for 2 to 3 victories every year when he coached here in Atlanta.

BigGAdawg

February 24th, 2011
1:00 am

DOB,
Stop drinking all that coffee–you need to set it up as a slow drip IV and just change the bag every few hours.
We all appreciate all the posts you are putting up. It is difficult to get through this purgatory in sports when there is no football or baseball. Bassettball, NASCAR, and hockeypucks just don’t get it done for many of us.
Are any of the Grapefruit League games streamed over the internet? It would be good to have a baseball video fix.

P. Bull Terrier

February 24th, 2011
2:15 am

Let’s hope DOB doesn’t ever talk to the other writers at the AJC and discover that all he has to do is write a column like, “Should the Braves wear red hats or blue hats?”, then let everyone argue about it for the next 24 hours. The poor sucker is out working while the rest of the crew is phoning it in and heading out for another beer.

deja vu

February 24th, 2011
5:08 am

Dave, I’ve been following baseball for 40+ years. You are flat out the best beat writer I’ve ever seen.

David O'Brien

February 24th, 2011
6:30 am

deja vu: you’re too kind, sir.

Freeman says Hey

February 24th, 2011
6:39 am

I 2nd that aswell DOB….

Also remember a time about a decade ago when we all thought BC was on the verge of retiring and how most wanted Jimmy Williams to be his replacement? JW was a a dang good manager in the bigs.

David O'Brien

February 24th, 2011
6:47 am

mayor of ponce: I don’t have DVR here. But happened to see that Deerhunter segment on Letterman. Fell asleep on the sofa with TV on, woke up as they were beginning that song. I was surprised, to say the least.

David O'Brien

February 24th, 2011
6:55 am

McMann, Carroll Rogers did a nice feature story on Parrish last month. So it’s a bit soon to do another one on him. But I’ll do a note soon on what hitters think so far about working with him.

Boston Braves

February 24th, 2011
7:07 am

Got to tip your cap to the John and Frank for assembling a great front office staff! Good Job to DOB also!

NCBrave

February 24th, 2011
7:08 am

DOB,

You have doing a fantastic job relaying information to all us bloggers. I think you need a pay raise and should be added to the Braves payroll. Maybe next season you could go through arbitration with KK and take over his contract, you deserve it more than him.

Boston Braves

February 24th, 2011
7:09 am

DOB- What’s your thoughts about KK to St. Louis?

bill

February 24th, 2011
7:24 am

Great blog now we have 5 managers after years without one.

Ricky T. Tibbs

February 24th, 2011
8:41 am

Braves got 7 old former managers while Phillies got 4 pitching aces. Which would you rather have ?

Smiling Jack

February 24th, 2011
8:46 am

Bill, go stick your disrespect where the sun don’t shine! With all the positive posts this morning, you have to show up. Bobby Cox is among the best managers ever, regardless of your opinion…the facts bear it out and the personal opinions of greater persons than you carry more weight in any argument. Go Braves!

Jack J.

February 24th, 2011
8:46 am

To “Bravo man”if you have to drink on Sunday, buy it on sat. then sober up for Sun. at a local baseball field and help some youngsters with your baseball skills! problem solved!
Bill, your thoughts on Bobby Cox as manager of braves is realy bright; how many other clubs in baseball would have liked to have the braves manageral problems with B.C.
Hall of Fame Manager “Bobby Cox”

Disbott 3000

February 24th, 2011
8:58 am

First.

Just kidding! Great story.Keep ‘em coming!

Jesse Stone

February 24th, 2011
9:43 am

DOB- I will be taking my son to the St Patrick’s Day night game this year. If he wants to get autographs, what time do the players start arriving for night games? Will players not playing in the game work on the back fields in the morning? Any help appreciated. Thanks

SP

February 24th, 2011
9:55 am

Cory Gearrin sounds like a very well-spoken guy. I remember hearing him speak on a panel of a few players at the STH event during the prospect development week and thought the same thing. Wren also said something at that time about “we expect that Cory will be able to help us in the bullpen at some time this year.”

Lynn

February 24th, 2011
10:14 am

Any word on how KK is doing at spring training? The better he does, the more we can get for him in a trade.

MatthewH

February 24th, 2011
10:18 am

This many people with this much experience in camp has to lead the league. Are there any other teams with this many former managers on staff?

Slowhiteguy

February 24th, 2011
10:30 am

KK to Cards? You never know.

Oh really

February 24th, 2011
10:41 am

Who said nice article? It was repetitive and poorly worded. Not to rip on you Dave, but some of us do notice when you just crank out a post for the sake of it without proofing it.

MB

February 24th, 2011
10:47 am

Really enjoying all these posts DOB. They’re helping keep me sane until the games start. Haven’t been this excited for the regular season in a while now.

Terry

February 24th, 2011
10:50 am

How about some dedicated features on our new hitting coach, Larry Parrish, and bench coach, Carlos Tosca?

David O'Brien

February 24th, 2011
10:50 am

Any word on how KK is doing at spring training? The better he does, the more we can get for him in a trade. — Lynn

Yeah, he’s not. As in, not doing. As in, he’s still not here. Visa issues have kept him back in Japan and out of first week-and-a-half of workouts.

15 percenter

February 24th, 2011
10:51 am

Will someone please piss off Lee Elia? We need a good ten-minute, four-letter-word-laden tirade like only he can do so well. For those of you who haven’t lived in Chicago: Google “Lee Elia +rant”. You won’t be disappointed.

ttuman4702

February 24th, 2011
11:45 am

Love all the Braves news and views. Keep it coming.

Bigwheel

February 24th, 2011
12:31 pm

Hey DOB.. How is ed lucas looking?? Does he look like the front runner to be our backup SS??

ARoell

February 24th, 2011
2:03 pm

DOB, the Braves will have an abundance of guys who strikeout more than we would like (Gonzalez, McClouth, Uggla, Schafer, Freeman, Heyward -should drop some this year) How will they re-arrange the order to ease the strikeouts and rally killing moments? Personally, I feel the lineup should be Prado, Heyward, Chipper, Uggla, McCann, Gonzo, McClouth, Freeman, Pitcher. But then you have the bottom 4 of the order who will rarely be able to start a rally on their own by stringing together consecutive hits/walks?

jim

February 24th, 2011
2:56 pm

Ususally people with visa problems are players from the Dominican who signed using the wrong name or wrong birth date. Why is KK having visa problems that have lasted for about 2 weeks? Is this really masking another problem, like he is upset that the Braves didn’t move him to another team when they had a chance and allow him to settle into a new environment in a still new country? The man was a star in Japan and probably feels disused by the Braves. Have they overplayed their hand in not getting 2 million back when (if) they had a chance. Is there a stong likelihood now that they end up eating the whole contract and getting little or nothing back?

ramblingman

February 24th, 2011
4:32 pm

15 percenter –

The team needs to bring in Phillip Wellman to do a tag team with Elia. Now that would be a show.

ramblingman

February 24th, 2011
4:42 pm

ARoell, I am curious as to where you got your info on AGon, McLouth, Uggla, Schafer, Freeman, and Heyward being bad strikeout guys who need to be arranged in the lineup to avoid rally-killing.

Fan since 1977

February 24th, 2011
7:13 pm

Jim Fregosi’s claim to fame is being the player the Mets acquired from California Angels in exchange for…. Nolan Ryan.

Bobby should not put on the uniform again. It will create too many mixed emotions and hurt Fredi.

Ruffio

February 24th, 2011
7:14 pm

DOB,

When you buy a Braves spring training game ticket at home (WDW) do you have to pay to get into Disney’s Wide World of Sports as well ??

Reid in EAV

February 24th, 2011
8:45 pm

David, I’m in awe. I can blow my entire work day just reading your updates. How do you manage to write faster than I can read? Get some sleep, dude. ;)

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athensjack

February 25th, 2011
4:57 pm

I just gotta ask…..what’s so important and/or significant about being first???? Kinda seems like some people don’t have much going on in their lives if being first is that important. I’m just curious and don’t mean disrespect to anyone.

n

February 25th, 2011
5:05 pm

Love Lee Elia from his days in Seattle as bench/hitting coach during the Griffey years.

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