First, it was the Houston Astros. Now, the Arizona Diamondbacks are also loading up on ex-St. Louis Cardinals. Perhaps that should not be a surprise given Tony La Russa’s position as the Snakes’ Chief Baseball Officer.
The Diamondbacks announced their minor league coaching assignments on Wednesday, with three of the organization’s four first-time managers having Cardinals ties.
Mark Grudzielanek, 44, is the new skipper at a very familiar location to Midwest League fans, Kane County, Arizona’s new Class-A affiliate. The second baseman played 15 years in the Major Leagues, including with the Cardinals in 2005.
Shelley Duncan, 35, son of former Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan and current Arizona special assistant and pitching consultant, is the new manager at Hillsboro of the short-season Class-A Northwest League. Shelley, brother of ex-Cardinals outfielder Chris, played parts of seven seasons in the Majors.
Joe Mather, 32, is the new manager at rookie-level Missoula. Once known as “Joey Bombs,” the Phoenix-area native came up in the Cardinals system. The first baseman-outfielder appeared with the 2008 and 2010 Cards before also playing in the bigs with Atlanta and the Cubs.
In other Cardinals-Snakes news, Arizona has agreed to terms with infielder Nick Punto on a minor league deal that includes an invitation to Major League spring training. “The Shredder” has been well-traveled in a 14-year career that included a stop with St. Louis’ 2011 World Champions. The 37-year-old played with Oakland last season.
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