Source: Mike Henneman changes mind, returns to Tigers
Detroit — Goodbyes are no fun.
Fortunately for the Tigers and Mike Henneman, the goodbyes didn't last long.
According to a Tigers source, Henneman is coming back to the organization, just a month-and-a-half after he bid farewell.
Henneman will be the pitching coach at Double-A Erie, working under his good friend Lance Parrish, who'll be back for a second season as manager of the SeaWolves.
The past two years, Henneman, 52, was the pitching coach at Single-A West Michigan. Despite the Tigers offering him a raise and promotion, he took a job as a pitching coach at D-Bat, a baseball academy in Texas, citing a desire to be closer to his family.
But two weeks later, the Tigers called back, asked him to reconsider, and Henneman said yes.
Tigers brass really wanted him to move up to Erie, so he could continue working with the younger players he helped groom at West Michigan — kids like Kevin Ziomek, Jonathon Crawford, Austin Kubitza, Joe Mantiply and Zac Reininger, among others. The Tigers' low-level pitching prospects are well regarded throughout baseball circles.
One of them, Buck Farmer, even made the unthinkable leap from Single A to the majors, in the span of two weeks, this past year.
In 2014, the Whitecaps, under Henneman, were first in the Midwest League in strikeouts, and second in WHIP and ERA. It was on the strength of their pitching that they made the postseason, where they fizzled out fast with a roster depleted by promotions and one big trade (Willy Adames to the Rays in the David Price deal).
With the Henneman hiring, the Tigers appear poised to have new pitching coaches at all four major stops. Another former Tigers pitcher, Mike Maroth, is taking over for Al Nipper at Triple-A Toledo after spending three years in the same capacity at Single-A Lakeland, and Henneman is replacing Jaime Garcia at Erie. That leaves voids at Lakeland and West Michigan.
The Tigers have yet to make any official announcements about their 2015 minor-league personnel.