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Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Franklin to assume role as roving evaluator

By Nick Peruffo

At the end of last season, Tony Franklin said he was not done in baseball.

While the longtime Thunder manager won’t be returning to Trenton, he will indeed be spending plenty of time at ballparks in 2015.

Franklin, 64, will be staying with the Yankees organization is a role he characterized as a “roving evaluator”, though his specific title has not yet been finalized. In essence, he’ll travel around the system — particularly the lower affiliates — imparting his 40-plus years of baseball experience on both players and younger managers.

“I’m extremely happy,” said Franklin via telephone Monday morning. “It’s given me some renewed energy.”

According to Franklin, he was approached for the new role by Gary Denbo, the Yankees’ vice president of player development, who wanted more experience around the lower levels of the system.

“Gary asked me to do something for him,” Franklin said. “It was an honor for me that he asked…I’m very happy he thought enough of me to do that.”

Franklin also added that the decision was one of “mutual consent.”

On Thursday, the Thunder announced that Al Pedrique would be taking over for Franklin as manager in 2015. Franklin spent eight seasons as Thunder skipper, winning three Eastern League titles in five championship series appearances and becoming the league’s all-time winningest manager.

Franklin had nothing but positive words to describe his time in Trenton, praising both the organization and the fans.

“I am going to miss Trenton so much,” he said. “A couple days (after the decision) I got a little choked up…It was the best eight years I’ve spent in baseball.”

Pedrique, a native of Venezuela, managed High-A Tampa in 2014 and Low-A Charleston in 2013. He played parts of three major league seasons with the Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers, and has big league managerial experience as well. He was the interim manager for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004, and spent 2010-12 as a bench coach for the Houston Astros.

“Very good baseball man, and a very good person as well,” Franklin said of Pedrique. “Al is going to be a tremendous asset. He does it the right way.”

As previously reported, Pedrique will be joined by pitching coach Jose Rosado, hitting coach P.J. Pilittere, defensive coach Michel Hernandez, trainer Lee Meyer and strength coach Orlando Crance.

While Franklin won’t be with the Thunder every day, he probably has not set foot in Arm & Hammer Park for the final time. He said that he expects his new role to bring him north to Trenton (and Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre) at least once this season.

“I can’t wait to come back.”


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