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Baylor returns as Rockies hitting coach

Baylor returns as Rockies hitting coach

DENVER -- Don Baylor is returning to the Rockies, this time as their hitting coach.

Baylor was one of four coaches named to manager Clint Hurdle's staff on Monday. Also hired were bench coach Jim Tracy, third-base coach Rich Dauer and bullpen coach Jim Wright. The Rockies also announced that Brian Jordan is being promoted from the Minor Leagues to be the strength and conditioning coach.

They join pitching coach Bob Apodaca and first-base coach Glenallen Hill, who are being retained from the 2008 staff. They replace former dugout coach Jamie Quirk, hitting coach Alan Cockrell, third-base coach Mike Gallego and bullpen coach Rick Mathews.

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"I do believe all four men are the right fit for the right need and the right time for our ballclub," Hurdle said on Monday afternoon. "They bring specific skill sets that will challenge and encourage our players and allow them to get back to the basics of playing the type of baseball that was evident in the '07 season and the team dynamic of team first. They are all very passionate about the Rockies."

Baylor, 59, was the Rockies' first manager and spent six seasons in the job. He had a 440-469 (.484) record and led them to a 77-67 record in 1995. The Rockies won the National League Wild Card that season -- their only postseason appearance until 2007 -- and Baylor was National League Manager of the Year.

"We didn't do this as a feel-good thing," Hurdle said. "We did it because [Baylor] is the right man to help out our offense. I know I learned from him as his hitting coach. His experience fits for us as a former manager, hitting coach and a player. From team accomplishments and individual accomplishments, he's very special. There's a presence to Don that's very evident, and I feel he has a sense of unfulfilled business here in Colorado."

Baylor also spent three seasons as Cubs manager (2000-02) and has five years of experience as a hitting coach with the Mariners (2005), Braves (1999), Cardinals (1992) and Brewers (1990-91). He also spent 19 seasons with six teams in the Major Leagues, hitting .260 with 338 home runs and 1,276 RBIs. He was the 1979 American League MVP while with the Angels.

The addition of Baylor and Tracy adds 16 years of Major League managerial service to the Rockies staff. Hurdle will be entering his eighth season with the Rockies in 2009.

"Jim has worked for two guys that I respect as much as anybody in the industry in Felipe Alou and Davey Johnson," Hurdle said. "He has invaluable experience on the bench as well as having managed a major-market team in Los Angeles and a mid-market team in Pittsburgh. He'll help create a dynamic that will help us challenge our players and provide me with insight on the bench."

Tracy, 52, managed the Pirates in 2006-07 and the Dodgers in 2001-04, leading the latter to a division title in 2004. This will be his 32nd season in professional baseball, including four seasons as a bench coach for the Expos under Alou in 1995-98 and the Dodgers under Johnson in 1999-2000.

Dauer, 56, has spent the past three seasons as the organization's Minor League roving infield coordinator. In addition to coaching third base, he will be the Rockies' infield coach and coordinator of all defensive positioning. A former infielder with the Orioles, Dauer has eight years of experience as third-base coach in the Major Leagues with the Royals (1997-2002) and the Indians (1990-91). He was also a bench coach for the Brewers from 2003-05.

"Rich Dauer was mentored by Cal Ripken Sr. and has a passion for defense," Hurdle said.

Wright, 53, has been in the Rockies organization for 12 years, including the past six as their Minor League pitching coordinator. He is has worked closely with a number of the Rockies pitchers, including Aaron Cook, Manuel Corpas, Jeff Francis, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ryan Speier. He was Rockies pitching coach in 2002. Overall, he has 18 years of Minor League experience as a pitching coach/coordinator.

"[Wright] has worked with all our pitching prospects and the next two tiers of pitchers coming," Hurdle said. "He should really be a valuable addition to our staff in working with Bob Apodaca."

Jordan has spent the past nine years as the Rockies Minor League strength and conditioning coordinator.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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