Tigers cap Hinch's staff by hiring Jose Cruz Jr. as hitting instructor
Detroit — The Tigers Tuesday night added the final piece of manager AJ Hinch’s coaching staff, hiring former Blue Jays outfielder Jose Cruz Jr. as assistant hitting coach.
Just a few months back, the Tigers drafted Cruz’s son, shortstop Trei Cruz, in the third round.
“We’re excited to round out our major league staff with the addition of José Cruz Jr.,” Hinch said in a statement released by the club. “He was widely respected as a player both on and off the field and, spending his entire life around the game, has built a great ability to connect with both young and veteran players.”
Cruz spent 12 years in the big leagues, six with the Blue Jays. This will be his first big-league coaching job. Since 2013 he’s worked with MLB’s Player Association. But he fits into Hinch’s methodology for building a staff.
“There’s a lot of ways to put the puzzle together,” Hinch said. “We were looking for the right match for the staff and maybe we can shoot for some upside.”
He entrusted his pitching staff to first-year coach Chris Fetter and paired him with a veteran assistant — Juan Nieves. He reversed that with his hitting coaches. Cruz will assist veteran hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh.
“We identified Jose as someone who would be a great fit for AJ and his coaching staff and to work with our players at the Major League level,” general manager Al Avila said. “Jose comes from a well-respected, three-generation baseball family, and over the years I’ve watched him as a player and know him to be a leader both on the field and in the clubhouse.
“His background and knowledge of the game will be an asset to our ballclub.”
Cruz was the third overall pick of the Mariners in 1995 and posted a .337 on-base percentage, with 204 home runs and 113 stolen bases in 1,388 games, playing for nine teams. He was also a star for Puerto Rico in the 2006 World Classic, hitting .353 with a .476 on-base percentage.