After seven seasons of managing the Detroit Tigers' Triple-A affiliate in Toledo, Larry Parrish decided it was time to get back into the majors. Parrish was hired last week by the Atlanta Braves (working closer to home) as their new hitting coach, taking over for Terry Pendleton.
Parrish also managed the big league club in Detroit for part of the 1998 season (moving up from bench coach to replace the fired Buddy Bell) and the full 1999 season. But he was an interim choice all along, and the Tigers confirmed that when they hired Phil Garner to be their manager in 2000.
(Bless You Boys wonders if Parrish might return to the organization yet again if the Tigers go looking for a new manager after next season.)
From there, Parrish worked as a scout in the organization for two years before being selected to manage the Mud Hens in 2003. He held the top job in the Toledo dugout for seven seasons, missing the 2007 season while recovering from surgery on his ankle.
Overall, Parrish's record with the Mud Hens was 569-551. He led Toledo to an 89-win season and the International League championship in 2005. That performance also earned him 2005 Minor League Manager of the Year honors from The Sporting News. Parrish and the Mud Hens followed that up with another league title in 2006.
So who manages the Tigers' top farm team now?
The Tigers could promote from within and move Phil Nevin up from Double-A Erie to Toledo. That seems unlikely, however, given that he just finished his first season with the Seawolves.
MLB.com Tigers beat writer Jason Beck wonders if Matt Walbeck might be a natural choice for the job. Walbeck managed in the organization from 2004 to 2007 (winning two Midwest League championships with Single-A West Michigan), and was seemingly being groomed to be the manager of the future in Detroit.
Walbeck left to be the third-base coach with the Texas Rangers in 2008, but was let go after one season. He returned to the minors, managing the Pittsburgh Pirates' Double-A team, yet was inexplicably fired after winning a league championship.
Another possibility Beck speculates on is Bruce Fields, who managed Toledo from 2001-02 before joining Alan Trammell's staff in Detroit. Fields is currently a roving instructor in the Indians' minor league system, but perhaps the chance to manage his son, Daniel (who just finished his first pro season in Lakeland), would be enticing.