Matheny joins Cardinals' coaching staff
Ex-catcher to serve as assistant in player development
JUPITER, Fla. -- Taking a step closer to the seemingly inevitable, Mike Matheny was named as a special assistant, player development for the Cardinals organization on Thursday.
It was one of three hires announced by the club, rounding out its Minor League staffs for the 2010 season. In addition to Matheny's hire, Mitchell Page was named the hitting coach at Class A Quad Cities and Roger LaFrancois was named hitting coach at rookie-level Johnson City. Page was the Cardinals' Major League hitting coach from 2001-04.
For many fans, though, Matheny is the clear headliner. The four-time Gold Glove-winning catcher was of the club's most popular players during his tenure, not to mention an extremely well-regarded teammate. He will be charged with a variety of tasks throughout the organization in his first season as a full-time club employee since his retirement as a player.
"It's going to be kind of a hybrid job," general manager John Mozeliak said. "It's going to be [instructing catchers]. It's also going to be where he visits all our Minor League teams and spends time with the coaching staff and players. There's going to be some other special-assignment type jobs that he's going to be involved in. But for the most part, it's going to be spending time at the Minor League level. He'll also have some time at the big leagues as well."
Matheny has resisted taking a full-time coaching job as long as his children still live at home. This role, however, allows him to get a taste of coaching over the course of a season without quite the constant grind of being on a field staff.
"He's a natural [as a coach]," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's got so much to offer, and he wants to do it."
Matheny is currently in camp with the Cardinals as a special instructor.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.