With several coaching positions on Mike Matheny’s 2018 bench up in the air, the Cardinals made an announcement Monday that already has fans riled up for baseball season.
After spending a season helping with the development of young players in the organization, José Oquendo will return to the Cardinals’ major league coaching staff as the third base coach for 2018. The clamoring for “The Secret Weapon” to rejoin the big club grew rampant this past summer as the Cardinals traditional values of crisp defense and effective base running continued to evade St. Louis in Oquendo’s absence.
A long-time member of the Cardinals organization as a player, Oquendo joined the club as a minor league coach in 1997, and had served as the St. Louis third base coach from 2000 to 2016. Before that 2016 campaign, Oquendo went on medical leave due to knee surgery. Upon his return to health in 2017, he and the organization mutually decided he would serve as a minor league instructor at the Cardinals spring training facility in Jupiter, Florida.
Now, following consecutive postseason absences, Oquendo returns to the Cardinals staff, bringing with him his wealth of experience and knowledge in areas of need for the club.
David Bell departed his bench coach role with St. Louis last week to join the San Francisco Giants as the team’s Farm Director, which freed an additional spot on the Cardinals staff. Mike Shildt, who began 2017 as the Cardinals’ quality control coach, ended the season as the third base coach after a mid-summer shake up removed Chris Maloney from the position.
The Cardinals also announced on Monday Shildt as the replacement for Bell as bench coach, opening the third base coaching spot for Oquendo’s anticipated return to the team. Additionally, Willie McGee, who had served as a special assistant to the General Manager, has been added to the major league staff, while Ron "Pop" Warner will return to his previously-promoted role of Assistant Field Coordinator after last summer's coaching changes forced him to backfill in other areas during the season.
“We feel that by bringing the experience, past successes and baseball savvy that these three gentlemen possess to our Major League coaching staff will be a strong benefit to our ball club,” stated Cardinals’ President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak in the team's press release. “Whether it’s coaching, teaching, game analysis, game planning, etc., etc. - these three men bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our team.”
The Cardinals have yet to fill the pitching coach position vacated by Derek Lilliquist after the club decided not to renew his contract following the 2017 season. Recently fired Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey is rumored to be a target for the role.