Luis Pujols, who has a famous cousin and who once managed in the major leagues, has agreed to terms to work on the Orioles’ minor league coaching staff for the 2013 season.
The 57-year-old Pujols, whose cousin Albert has hit 475 big league homers, is a native of the Dominican Republic. He played 15 pro seasons and spent nine years as a backup catcher in the majors with Houston, Kansas City and Texas. He hit .193 with six homers and 81 RBIs in 850 career at-bats.
While the Orioles have yet to announce their minor league staff assignments for next season, it appears they have targeted Pujols to manage the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds.
That would produce a domino effect that would likely send Ryan Minor, the Shorebirds’ manager the past three seasons, to Frederick to manage the Single-A Keys. Right now, it appears that Ron Johnson will return to manage Triple-A Norfolk and that Gary Kendall will return to manage Double-A Bowie.
Under this scenario, Orlando Gomez, who managed three seasons at Frederick, leading the Keys to the Carolina League championship in 2011, could move to another position and possibly head up the club’s Florida operations and manage their Gulf Coast League team. With all the players on major league rehab assignments that wind up in Florida, the Sarasota assignment is a position where the club reportedly wants to place a respected veteran to oversee the operation.
While not confirming the hire of Pujols, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette indicates some changes are coming to the minor league staff and that Pujols would be a solid addition.
“He’s been a coach for the Astros and was a bench coach for Felipe Alou (in Montreal),” Duquette said. “He’s an ex-major league catcher. He’s bilingual, he’s from the Dominican. I think he has managed winter ball and he’s a veteran baseball guy. He’s managed at a couple of levels in the minors.
“We’re addressing our minor league staffing. We are in the process of doing that. We’ll have some new additions to our minor league staff for next year.”
Pujols was a catching instructor in the Montreal farm system when Duquette was general manager of the Expos. Pujols was first base coach for the Expos from 1993-99 on Felipe Alou’s staff and was Alou’s bench coach in 2000. He was also Alou’s first base coach when he managed the San Francisco Giants from 2003-06.
In 2002, Pujols was bench coach with the Detroit Tigers and took over as interim manager six games into that season when the club fired Phil Garner. A young Tigers squad, with 13 players making their big league debuts, went 55-100 the rest of the way.
When Pujols replaced Garner, he became the second Dominican-born manager in Major League history. Alou was the first. On June 25 of that season, history was made when the Tigers faced the Kansas City Royals, who were managed by Tony PeÃ±a. It was the first time two Dominican-born managers opposed each other in a major league game.
Pujols has managed winter ball in the Dominican in recent years and spent three seasons as a manager in the minors in 2001 with Double-A Erie and in 2008-09 with Double-A Corpus Christi. That Erie club went 84-58 and won a division title.