Indians name Quatraro assistant hitting coach
Former Rays Minor League batting coordinator to work with Van Burkleo
CLEVELAND -- The Indians had one of the American League's top-ranked offenses last season, but the club wants as many eyes on its hitters as possible.
On Wednesday, Cleveland officially announced the hiring of Matt Quatraro as an assistant hitting coach. He will work alongside Indians hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo, who will be entering his second season on manager Terry Francona's coaching staff.
"We just felt that it was an opportunity to provide additional resources for our coaching staff," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. "Ty did a really good job this year and he'll continue to lead our efforts there, but this will give him another resource to utilize to continue to help our hitters."
Antonetti noted that other coaches on a big league staff are only responsible for a handful of players, while a hitting coach is asked to handle a dozen or more hitters. With a pitching staff, for example, the rotation and bullpen arms are divided among the pitching coach and bullpen coach.
The Indians felt it made sense to add a second hitting coach to help spread out the duties.
"We ask so much out of that spot," Antonetti said. "Our hitting coach is asked to work with 13 or 14 hitters, which is an extraordinary amount of guys to have to work with, especially with the demands of the other parts of the job. It's not only all the time in the cage and all the time pregame on the field, but also the prep work that goes into it from an advanced scouting standpoint, looking at video, and analytics."
During Van Burkleo's first year as Cleveland's hitting coach last season, the Indians finished among the top five teams in the AL in runs (745), walks (562), stolen bases (117), extra-base hits (484) and on-base percentage (.327). Cleveland ranked sixth in the league in OPS (.737) and eighth in average (.255), while setting a single-season franchise record for strikeouts (1,283).
Quatraro worked as the Rays' Minor League hitting coordinator over the past four seasons, following previous roles as a manager and catching instructor within Tampa Bay's farm system. During parts of seven Minor League seasons, Quatraro hit .286 with 23 home runs and 202 RBIs in 415 games after being taken by the Rays in the eighth round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft.
The Rays made Quatraro the first of their former Minor League players to join the organization's coaching ranks.
Quatraro, 40, will fill a role that Luis Ortiz -- a Minor League hitting coordinator for the Indians -- held with Cleveland in September after rosters expanded. Ortiz also interviewed for the full-time position on Francona's staff.
"He's actually a guy that we've always admired from afar," Antonetti said of Quatraro. "We've overlapped with him in other developmental leagues that our teams have been in. ... He's always been a guy that we've heard great things about. The more work we did, the more he stood out as a potential candidate for us. He brings a lot to the table."