Tigers hire Newhan as assistant hitting coach

The Tigers have a new assistant hitting coach. They filled the void left by Darnell Coles’ departure by hiring former Major League utilityman David Newhan, who was most recently managing at Class A Vermont in the A’s system but spent three years before that as a hitting coach in the Padres organization, where manager Brad Ausmus was a special assistant at the time.

Ausmus saw a lot of the same qualities in David Newhan that he saw in Coles, who left last month to become the main hitting coach in Milwaukee.

“We were together with Padres and actually played together a year in Houston,” Ausmus said Monday. “He’s very positive, which is extremely important, and he will work tirelessly at a job that is very demanding.”

Newhan, the son of legendary baseball columnist and Spink Award winner Ross Newhan, was a 17th-round draft pick of the A’s in 1995 who made it to the big leagues in San Diego in 1999. After brief big-league stints from 1999 through 2001, a 2002 season lost to injury and a 2003 season stuck in the minors, he finally found a Major League role in Baltimore in 2004.

Newhan batted .311 with eight home runs, 54 RBIs and an .814 OPS in 95 games that year in Baltimore, where he stayed through 2006. After bouncing between the Mets and Triple-A in 2007, he finished out his Major League career in 2008 with the Astros, where Ausmus was the catcher.

After surviving a life-threatening surfing accident in 2009, Newhan got into coaching as a hitting coach in the Padres system, where Ausmus was working as a special assistant. Newhan jumped to the A’s to manage their Class A affiliate in Vermont this past season.

He’ll now get his return to the big leagues, this time in an instructional capacity, to work with a group of hitters that range from three-time batting champion and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and All-Star Ian Kinsler to youngsters Nick Castellanos, Jose Iglesias and Tyler Collins, among others.

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