ATLANTA — More than a decade ago, Jeff Blauser was known as a gritty shortstop who played a large part in the success the Braves had throughout the 1990s. His manager Bobby Cox always viewed him as hard-working, knowledgeable player who had the makings to one day be a successful manager in the professional ranks.
Blauser will get the opportunity to prove his former skipper right when he begins his tenure as the manager for the Double-A Mississippi Braves next season. The former Atlanta shortstop spent this past season as a roving instructor in the Braves’ Minor League system.
"That’s good news for the organization to have him back on board," Cox said. "He’s ready to go and he’s committed to everything that he does."
"We’re excited about Jeff Blauser’s decision to become a manager in our system," added Dayton Moore, Atlanta’s assistant general manager of baseball operations. "His leadership and baseball experience will serve our organization well and be a great benefit to our players."
"I’m really looking forward to the opportunity," Blauser said. "I’ve been there and I really like the area and the fan support. They’ve got a good product on the field and in the surrounding area. My wife is from Delhi, La., and I have friends from the Jackson-Pearl area, so I’m familiar with it. I’m looking forward to the challenge and I believe it’s going to be a good summer."
Blauser’s promotion, which was announced Wednesday afternoon, was among the many changes the Braves have made with the Minor League coaching staffs. Brian Snitker, who managed Mississippi last year, will now serve as Triple-A Richmond’s manager.
Rocket Wheeler and Randy Ingle will switch jobs with Wheeler leaving his managerial post with Class A Rome to become the manager for Myrtle Beach, the club’s advanced Class A team.
Paul Runge will once again serve as the manager at Rookie Level Danville. His new pitching coach will be Doug Henry, who pitched in the big leagues for 11 seasons.
Blauser made his Major League debut with the Braves in 1987 and remained in the organization until joining the Cubs in 1998. During his final season in Atlanta, he posted career highs in batting average (.308) and home runs (17). He was an All-Star in both the 1993 and ’97 seasons. Blauser finished with a career batting average of .262 with 217 doubles, 122 homers and 513 RBIs.
During his years with the Braves, Blauser gained close friendships with Greg Maddux and Mark Lemke. Together, they provided plenty of clubhouse pranks and at the same time proved to be loyal students of the game.
"He was a real hard worker and he came through this system, too," Cox said. "He understands what the organization wants."
"It is very exciting to have Jeff Blauser manage this club. It makes it extra special to get a guy who played for us when I was the GM in Greenville. Jeff has come full cycle … we watched him ‘grow up’ in this organization, watched him have a terrific Major League career in Atlanta, and now we will be able to watch him manage and mold the next generation of Braves superstars," said Mississippi Braves general manager Steve DeSalvo.
Snitker, who has either played coached or managed in the Braves system since 1977, replaces Pat Kelly, who will join the club’s scouting staff. Mike Alvarez, who spent last season as Richmond’s pitching coach, will now be a roving pitching coach.
"It’s always sad to lose a guy like Brian Snitker who was a great manager and became a very good friend, however, I’m very happy for him and his opportunity to manage in Triple-A," said DeSalvo.
This is fantastic news, and I am very happy for Jeff! I need to dust off my old box that I store baseball cards of former Braves in and send one of him to the Mississippi Braves to see if I can get it back signed. That would be so awesome, because he is one of my all time favorite Braves players, he is one I grew up watching.
Congratulations on your promotion, Jeff! Go get em’!!