Pensacola Blue Wahoos manager Jim Riggleman, much like the prospects he coaches, has earned a promotion.
The longtime major-league skipper will now serve as manager of the Louisville Bats in 2013, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Pensacola team owner Quint Studer broke the relative offseason silence during an interview with WNRP-AM earlier Tuesday morning.
Asked if the team had any word on whether or not Riggleman would return, Studer quipped, “Yeah. He won’t.” He continued, “I don’t want to get too ahead of [the Reds]. It looks like he’ll be their Triple-A manager, in Louisville.” Riggleman later appeared on the station to discuss his promotion, expressing surprise at the promotion:
I just assumed I was going to go back to Pensacola, which I was fine with. I love Pensacola. I was treated better there than any place I’ve ever been treated in baseball.
…You know, if I had been asked to come back to Pensacola, I probably would’ve looked at buying something there, because it was such a special place for me.
[The Reds] knew how much I liked Pensacola, and that they were not gonna get me out of there unless they felt that they needed to.
Whatever you need me to do, I’ll do it, and I’ll miss Pensacola. But if you need me to go to Louisville, then that’s where I’ll go.
He will fill the void left by David Bell, who was hired as the Chicago Cubs‘ third base coach in October. In one season at the helm, Bell oversaw the worst single-season record in Louisville history as the Bats finished 51-93 on the year.
Making waves last summer after abruptly resigning from his post with the Washington Nationals, Riggleman was announced months later as the manager for the first-year Double-A squad. He led the Blue Wahoos to a 68-70 clip while sending five players to the Southern League All-Star Game. His overall minor-league record currently sits at 693-683 (.504) after ten seasons in the Cardinals (1982-88), Padres (1991-92), and Reds (2012-present) organizations, according to Baseball Reference.
Pegged by some to be a Plan B of sorts should Dusty Baker fail to deliver a title to Cincinnati, Riggleman’s credentials are certainly well-established following three decades in baseball. Following an eight-year career in the minors, Riggleman made his coaching debut in 1981 with the Arkansas Travelers and thus began his prolific coaching career. Riggleman worked as the first base coach for the Cardinals for two years before earning his first managerial job with San Diego in 1992. After stints with the Padres (1992-94) and Cubs (1995-99), he served as the third base coach for Cleveland in 2000 before joining the Los Angeles Dodgers one year later as a bench coach. He spent three seasons as the Cardinals’ minor league field coordinator, acting as part of the organization from 2005 to 2007. In two instances, bench jobs led to interim management: first with Seattle in 2008 and later with Washington the following year. The 2011 season was his third as the Nationals’ head coach before his resignation in June.
Both Cincinnati and Louisville are expected to make official announcements on Wednesday, while Pensacola has not yet named a new manager.
UPDATE: Delino DeShields has been named by team officials as the newest manager of the Blue Wahoos, according to a Pensacola News Journal report.