November 11th, 2010
The Tigers made Phil Nevin’s promotion to Triple-A Toledo official Thursday, formally announcing his hire as the Mud Hens new manager at an afternoon press conference at Fifth Third Field.
“We felt he has the personality, the drive, the desire,” Tigers vice president/assistant general manager Al Avila said. “He had the right qualities in our mind.”
Nevin succeeds Larry Parrish, who managed the Hens for eight years before being named as Atlanta’s new hitting coach last month.
The hire brings Nevin back to the club where he played briefly in 1995 and ’97 after the Astros traded the former top overall pick to the Tigers. At that point, he was a former top prospect struggling to stick in the big leagues, and it was another couple years — and another trade — until he finally broke out as a Major League player.
Nevin feels he can relate those experiences to players, both top prospects and youngsters trying to break through.
“I understand what they go through,” he said. “I understand how they’re looked at.”
Nevin joined the organization last year as the manager at Double-A Erie, a move made by former Tigers player development Glenn Ezell after Nevin spent 2009 managing in independent ball. Nevin wanted a shot, and the Tigers gave it to him. While the SeaWolves finished 66-76, the record was a little deceiving. They got off to a terrible start, losing their first eight games, and played pretty close to .500 ball the rest of the way.
Avila said that made an impression on club officials. The team began to gel after the rough start, and then Nevin had to repeat the process with an influx of new players after midseason.
“Don’t see the start,” Avila said. “See how they end.”
The 39-year-old Nevin played in Toledo in 1995 after he was the player to be named later from Houston in the Mike Henneman trade. He was a Mud Hen again in 1997 before the Tigers traded him to the Angels. He also was a Tiger in 1996 and ’97. As he pointed out, he did not get to play at Fifth Third Field, since it was several years from being built. His Hens days came at Ned Skeldon Stadium in Maumee.
Nevin said he has been in touch with Parrish several times over the last couple weeks.
Tigers player development director Mike Rojas said they’ll embark on a new search for Nevin’s successor in Erie, which will have its third different manager in as many years and fourth in five seasons. Like the Mud Hens opening, this search will include a look at candidates inside and outside the organization.