Former Orioles utility player Ryan Flaherty believes that the club made a smart hire in Tony Mansolino, who is replacing José Flores as third base coach and infield instructor.
Flaherty has known Mansolino for a long time. They were drafted three years apart from Vanderbilt University and Mansolino managed Flaherty at Triple-A Columbus in the Indians organization in 2019.
The Orioles haven’t announced the composition of their coaching staff, but a source last week confirmed Mansolino’s hiring from the Indians organization.
“He’s one of my close friends,” said Flaherty, who lives in the Fort Lauderdale area and serves as the Padres’ major league advance scout/development coach.
“He’s good, he’ll be a good add. From my own personal standpoint, I was fortunate to have Bobby (Dickerson) as an infield coach and then the year I spent in Atlanta I had Wash (Ron Washington). From an infield standpoint, he preaches a lot of the same things that both Wash and Bobby preach and he coaches hard. And I say that in the most respectful way.
“The year I was in Triple-A and having a friendship with him, he’d still be getting on me about my secondary leads at third, and I think he pushed me extremely hard even when we had that relationship. And he’s worked in the Cleveland organization that I think is just extremely well run from the top all the way to the bottom.
“From a data standpoint, coaching standpoint, I think they do a really good job of blending all the aspects. And he grew up in the game.”
Mansolino spent 11 seasons with the Indians as a minor league coach, manager and instructor and guided Columbus to the International League championship in 2019. He led Single-A Lynchburg to an 87-52 record in 2017. His father, Doug is the Braves’ field coordinator and has managed in the minors and coached in the majors with the White Sox, Brewers, Tigers and Astros.
“Triple-A is hard,” Flaherty said. “That was my only experience having him coach me and that level is extremely hard with a bunch of older players who think they should be in the big leagues and a bunch of young players who are mad they’re not up yet. Every day, we’d have a meeting going over the night before, things that happened, small things within the game. Coaching moments each day that I thought was pretty cool, especially at that level, where I think a lot of other managers just brush over it, just try to please all the people who are unhappy.
“He took the time to really coach and make players better, which is tough to do at times.”
The Pirates drafted Mansolino in the 26th round in 2005 and his playing career ended in 2010 with the Wichita Wingnuts of the independent American Association. He never reached the majors or Triple-A during four seasons in the Pirates and Phillies organizations.
The ceiling was seven games with Double-A Reading in 2008.
Mansolino has played every infield position, with 111 games at first base in the minors and 111 at third, and both outfield corners.
“He’ll be good, really good,” Flaherty said.
The rest of manager Brandon Hyde’s staff consists of pitching coach/director of pitching Chris Holt, assistant pitching coach Darren Holmes, hitting coach Don Long, major league coordinator/catching instructor Tim Cossins, assistant hitting coach José Hernandez, major league coach Fredi González and first base coach Anthony Sanders.
* Former Orioles public relations director Bob Brown passed away yesterday, extending a disturbingly long line of deaths in 2020. He was 89.
Brown held the job longer than anyone in franchise history and worked for the team from 1959-92 as PR director, traveling secretary and publications director. He was widely known as the best in the business, as pointed out again yesterday by Rangers executive vice president of communications John Blake in a tweet.
Legendary columnist John Steadman referred to Brown in 2000 as “far and away the best public relations/publicity director to serve any Baltimore team.”
“Bob Brown created a standard of excellence that his successors in Baltimore and counterparts in other cities fully comprehend,” Steadman wrote. “He was the best.”
Brown was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2003 along with Cal Ripken Jr. The Camden Yards press box is named in his honor.
“I got to know Bob when I first got into the business in the late ’80s working for Phyllis Merhige back in the league office, when there were league offices,” former Orioles PR director John Maroon said yesterday. “He was so widely respected and liked that it was almost intimidating ... until you met him. One of the friendliest and welcoming people who made me feel like part of the fraternity even when I was just a kid who knew nothing. Then you started to understand his influence on how we worked. Developing real relationships with members of the media, walking that tightrope of being a conduit between press, coaches, players and front office and the fact that he set standards for our industry with tools like media guides and game notes that live on to this day.
“Then, when I had the chance to move to Baltimore and fill the large shoes of Bob for five seasons (1995-1999), he was there to help at any time ... 2131, playoff runs, team history questions, you name it. It was an honor to have known him.”
Bill Stetka worked as Maroon’s assistant before replacing him as the head of public relations. Brown helped Stetka as a young reporter and later hired him to be an official scorer - dispensing advice and every statistic imaginable.
“Bob was a legend in baseball PR circles, setting standards for others to aspire to,” said Stetka, now the Orioles director of alumni. “He was a mentor to me and countless others. In many ways, he was the Mr. Oriole of the team’s front office.”
* Orioles pitchers and catchers are supposed to report to spring training on Feb. 16. The first exhibition game is supposed to be played on Feb. 27 against the Braves at Ed Smith Stadium.
I don’t know anyone in the industry who’s supremely confident in these dates, with expectations that the pandemic will maintain its influence, but so far they remain official.
I can update the Grapefruit League schedule with first-pitch times in Sarasota, in case you’re planning on making any trips or just tracking the games.
Feb. 27: vs. Braves, 1:05 p.m.
Feb. 28: (SS) vs. Rays, 1:05 p.m.
Feb. 28: (SS) at Twins, TBA.
March 1: vs. Yankees, 1:05 p.m.
March 2: at Rays, TBA
March 3: vs. Pirates, 1:05 p.m.
March 4: at Tigers, TBA
March 5: vs. Phillies, 6:05 p.m.
March 6: vs. Pirates, 1:05 p.m.
March 7: at Yankees, TBA
March 8: at Red Sox, TBA
March 9: vs. Phillies, 1:05 p.m.
March 10: off day
March 11: vs. Rays, 1:05 p.m.
March 12: at Pirates, TBA
March 13: at Twins, TBA
March 14: vs. Red Sox, 1:05 p.m.
March 15: at Braves, TBA
March 16: vs. Yankees, 6:05 p.m.
March 17: (SS) vs. Red Sox, 1:05 p.m.
March 17: (SS) at Tigers, TBA
March 18: at Dunedin, TBA
March 19: vs. Twins, 1:05 p.m.
March 20: at Braves, TBA
March 21: at Phillies, TBA
March 22: vs. Tigers, 1:05 p.m.
March 23: at Rays, TBA
March 24: (SS) vs. Braves, 1:05 p.m.
March 24: (SS) at Pirates, TBA
March 25: at Yankees, TBA
March 26, vs. Jays, 6:05 p.m.
March 27: vs. Twins, 6:05 p.m.
March 28: at Red Sox, TBA