With Spring Training about 3 months away, the Philadelphia Phillies announced that former major league pitcher Les Lancaster will become the new pitching coach and Lino Connell will be the hitting coach for the Williamsport Crosscutters on Tuesday afternoon.
The Phillies did not name a 2013 manager for the Crosscutters, their only vacancy in their minor-league system. Andy Tracy, the Cutters' 2012 manager, has been named the Phillies' roving minor-league hitting instructor.
Lancaster spent last season with the Lakewood BlueClaws, the Phillies' Class A affiliate. Before joining the Phillies' staff in 2011, Lancaster spent 11 of the last 12 seasons as a manager for four independent league teams.
"I'm excited, I get to work with the young guys and I've worked with some of the younger guys before," Lancaster said. "For a lot of these guys this will be their first year of pro ball and I'll be able to introduce them to the sport and help them excel at it."
Lancaster spent seven years in MLB, pitching for the Cubs, Tigers and Cardinals as both a starter and a reliever while compiling a 41-28 record with a 4.05 ERA and 22 saves. His experience as both a starter and closer should be of good use to a young pitching staff just breaking into professional baseball.
"With my whole career doing pretty much everything as a pitcher, I have the knowledge to help develop these guys at a young age and give them the confidence that they need," Lancaster said. "They can show me what they have and we can tweak things a little."
And while the idea of working with the younger players could be frustrating for many, Lancaster likes the idea of being able to help shape younger players as soon as they get to the big leagues.
"I'm a type of coach that is hands on and I want to teach them about every part of the game," Lancaster said. "Hopefully with my past and my career from a starter to closer that I can teach them and hopefully they can take the knowledge and succeed."
As a closer, Lancaster helped lead the Chicago Cubs to the NL East Division title in 1989, going 4-2 with eight saves and a 1.86 ERA in 72.2 innings.
" Being able to get to the postseason is great when not many people get to do it," Lancaster said. "Being able to make the postseason in just my third season-I was excited. Being able to get a win during that series was something that I'll definitely remember."
Lancaster will join an all new coaching staff that has yet to announce a new manager or hitting coach. And while many coaches at the Crosscutters' level are coaching or managing for the first time, Lancaster has experience with both.
"I think I can help out with my background, as I've had 13 years of managing," Lancaster said. "Being able to give the knowledge that I have to help a young manager out will be good and he has the final decision but I can give my input."
Connell, who could not be reached Tuesday, joined the Phillies in 2012 as a coach at Lakewood. A former infielder, he played professionally for 15 years including stints in the Angels organization, four independent leagues, and the Mexican League, batting a combined .297 in 1,410 games. In addition, Connell played three seasons in the Italian Baseball League (2008-2010).