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