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Ozzie Timmons leaves Rays for job as hitting coach with Brewers

The Tampa native and longtime Tampa Bay staffer said the opportunity for a co-hitting coach role was enticing.
Then-Rays first base coach Ozzie Timmons, right, shares a moment with leftfielder Randy Arozarena during a game against the Tigers in September at Tropicana Field.
Then-Rays first base coach Ozzie Timmons, right, shares a moment with leftfielder Randy Arozarena during a game against the Tigers in September at Tropicana Field. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Nov. 12, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG — Having called Tampa home his whole life and spent his entire 15-year coaching career with the Rays organization made it hard for Ozzie Timmons to leave.

The chance to share the top hitting coach job with the Brewers made it easy.

Timmons, who spent the last four seasons as the Rays’ first base and assistant hitting coach, on Wednesday was named one of two hitting coaches in Milwaukee, along with Connor Dawson.

“Coming up with (the Rays) organization, since I started coaching, it’s always tough to leave a place like this,’ Timmons, 51, said on a media Zoom call. “But going to the Brewers, they’re almost on the same level as far as young talent and working with them and what they have.

“So it’s always tough to leave where you started — and I’ve only been in one organization — but looking at the organization from the outside with the Brewers, it looks like they have a lot of things they want to do. And the opportunity to be a head hitting coach or, slash, co-hitting coach, with Connor I think is going to play well.”

The opportunity in Milwaukee came about after the Rays had decided to shuffle Timmons’ duties, moving him off first base to focus solely on assistant hitting coach work. Chris Prieto is being promoted from the minor leagues to take over at first base. (He also will have baserunning and outfield coaching responsibilities.)

“I can’t imagine a guy connecting with players better and the relationships that (Timmons) builds, and his overall demeanor is something that you value so much and will be greatly missed,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said Wednesday night. “Obviously, wish him the best and know he will be very successful in this new role.”

The Rays will now seek to hire an assistant hitting coach and typically will look first internally, with minor-league coaches Dan DeMent, Brady North and Kyle Wilson likely to be among those considered.

Timmons will quickly get up to speed on the Brewers’ hitters, including former Rays shortstop Willy Adames. He and Dawson also will come up with a way to mark their success, Timmons saying he will not continue his popular routine of doing 10 pushups in the dugout for every run scored as he did with the Rays.

“I think the pushups has run its course,” Timmons said.

Timmons, who attended Brandon High and the University of Tampa, ended a 16-year playing career, which included a brief 2000 stint with the Devil Rays, in 2006. He started coaching the next year, first with the Rays’ short-season Class A Hudson Valley team, then worked his way through Class A, Double-A and Triple-A to get to the majors in 2018. He was a fan favorite at Tropicana Field.

“Tampa’s home,” Timmons said. “But now I’ve got a new home to go to in Milwaukee.”

Also Wednesday, Ani Kilambi was hired away from the Rays to be an assistant general manager with the Phillies, overseeing their research and development department and use of data in decision-making. Kilambi, 27, had worked for the Rays since 2015, recently promoted from assistant director of baseball research and development to director of decision science.

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Silver Sluggers go elsewhere

None of the three Rays finalists won Silver Slugger awards. Catcher Mike Zunino lost out to Kansas City’s Salvador Perez; designated hitter Nelson Cruz to Los Angeles’ Shohei Ohtani; and outfielder Randy Arozarena to the trio of Teoscar Hernandez (Blue Jays), Aaron Judge (Yankees) and Cedric Mullins (Orioles).

Silver Slugger Awards

The winners announced Thursday, decided by votes from the manager and three coaches of each MLB team:

National League

C Buster Posey, SF

1B Freddie Freeman, Atl

2B Ozzie Albies, Atl

3B Austin Riley, Atl

SS Fernando Tatis Jr., SD

OF Bryce Harper, Phi

OF Juan Soto, Was

OF Nick Castellanos, Cin

American League

C Salvador Perez, KC

1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Tor

2B Marcus Semien, Tor

OF Teoscar Hernandez, Tor

OF Aaron Judge, NYY

OF Cedric Mullins, Bal

DH Shohei Ohtani, LAA

Note: No award given this year in the AL at shortstop or third base, or in the NL at pitcher

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