The Chicago White Sox did not specifically target former major league players when filling vacancies on their coaching staff.
But as it turns out, each of the five new additions has major league playing experience.
“We just identified guys that we felt had impeccable makeup,” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said during a video conference. “One thing I noticed is that these guys are like grinders.
“Each of these guys brings a little different perspective on what they needed to do to play Major League Baseball for a long time and stay in the game for a long time, which was really fascinating to me.”
The Sox announced their 2024 personnel on Tuesday.
The new additions include Marcus Thames, who will look to help the Sox get back on track offensively after being named the team’s hitting coach.
The Sox also added Jason Bourgeois as first base/outfield coach. Drew Butera as catching coach, Matt Wise as assistant pitching coach and Grady Sizemore as major league coach.
Ethan Katz returns as pitching coach, Mike Tosar as assistant hitting coach, Eddie Rodríguez as third base/infield coach and Charlie Montoyo as bench coach. Tosar was the team’s major league field coordinator last season.
Thames will be the team’s third hitting coach in three seasons, replacing José Castro, who replaced Frank Menechino. The 47-year-old spent 2023 as the Los Angeles Angels’ hitting coach.
“He has an incredible ability to relate to all types of players,” Sox general manager Chris Getz said of Thames during the MLB general managers meeting Tuesday at a resort in Paradise Valley, Arizona.
“He has trained in different markets, with players from different backgrounds, with higher profiles and with younger players, so that type of starter ability was really important to our goal. This is really outstanding.”
Powered by Shohei Ohtani’s league-leading 44 home runs, the Angels ranked third in the American League in that category with 231. They ranked seventh in the AL in OPS (.743), eighth in batting average (.245) and ninth in on-base percentage (.317).
The Sox were tied for 11th in the AL with 171 home runs in 2023 and were 12th with a .384 slugging percentage. They ranked last in the majors with an on-base percentage of .291.
Thames previously served as hitting coach for the Miami Marlins (2022) and New York Yankees (2021-22). He played parts of 10 seasons in the majors with the Yankees (2002, 2010), Texas Rangers (2003), Detroit Tigers (2004-09) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2011).
He has worked with people like Ohtani and Aaron Judge. Now he will aim to help the Sox, whether it’s helping Luis Robert Jr. put together an impressive 2023, letting players like Andrew Vaughn and Eloy Jiménez take the next step or getting the most out of Yoán Moncada.
Sox manager Pedro Grifol said the tandem of Thames and Tosar is “a good team for the future.”
Sizemore, 41, is entering his first season as a major league coach. He was a three-time All-Star in the major leagues for ten years and became the coach of the Arizona Complex League Diamondbacks in 2022. He spent most of his career with Cleveland (2004-11) and also played for Boston (2014). , Philadelphia (2014-15) and Tampa Bay (2015).
“It was clear during the interview that Grady could really connect with a lot of our players,” Getz said. “He had 700 recording appearances four years in a row (2005-2008). Bringing that kind of mentality into our ecosystem, so to speak, will really bode well for us.”
Grifol said Sizemore will be a hybrid coach.
“A lot of baserunning, a lot of outfield stuff, wherever we need him,” Grifol said.
Wise, 47, spent the last three seasons as the Angels’ pitching coach. He appeared in 209 games (18 starts) over parts of eight seasons with the Angels (2000–02), Milwaukee Brewers (2004–07) and New York Mets (2008).
“It will be very helpful, in my opinion, to bring in a top-notch pitching coach of his own caliber for Ethan,” Getz said. “They have built a solid relationship by working together in the past, and that will only strengthen the group with (senior pitching advisor Brian Bannister) included.”
Butera, 40, was the Angels’ catching coordinator last season and a bullpen catcher in 2022. He played parts of 12 seasons with the Minnesota Twins (2010-13), Dodgers (2013-14), Angels (2015, ’21), Kansas City Royals (2015-18) and Colorado Rockies (2018-20).
Grifol described him as “one of the emerging minds in the game.”
“I’m looking forward to him working with the catchers and the game planning and game management part, which I think we were really bad at last year,” Grifol said.
Bourgeois, 41, was the Dodgers organization’s outfield and base running coordinator from 2021-23. He played in 317 major league games over eight seasons for the White Sox (2008), Brewers (2009), Houston Astros (2010–11), Royals (2012), Rays (2013) and Cincinnati Reds (2014–15). . ).
“The Dodgers have had great developmental success in many different aspects that he will focus on,” Getz said. “Just a talented coach who will really help in a lot of different ways.”
Getz said the major league background of the new coaches is not critical.
“Ultimately, when players are able to respond to coaches, they have to feel like the coach is in their corner and it’s about helping the player,” Getz said. “In this case, we have people with gaming backgrounds and the ability to build those relationships.”