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Steve Decker Named Defenders 2009 Skipper

December 17, 2008 - Eastern League (EL) Connecticut Defenders

NORWICH, CT- The Connecticut Defenders and San Francisco Giants announced today that Steve Decker will manage the team in 2009. Ross Grimsley will take over the duty as pitching coach, Garey Ingram is the new hitting instructor, and Eric Ortega has been named the team's trainer.

"Were thrilled with the new addition of Steve Decker and his coaching staff to the Defenders family," said Defenders General Manager Charlie Dowd. "Last year we took a step in the right direction. With the new staff and the potential prospects headed to Norwich, we look to pick up the pace for 2009."

Decker, 43, has been a manager or coach in the Giants minor league system for eight years and most recently managed High-A San Jose in 2008.

"I'm truly excited about this new challenge," said Defenders new manager Steve Decker. "I play a different style of baseball. I'm all about hard work and having my team ready to compete and winning becomes a byproduct of that."

Connecticut's new manager enjoyed two successful stints as a manager in the Giants' system. After spending four years as a coach in Short-A Salem Keizer, Decker managed the squad to a 45-31 record in 2005. Decker proceeded to win back-to-back Northwest League titles in 2006 and 2007 and was named Manager of the Year in both campaigns. In 2008, Decker took over in Class-A San Jose and led the team to a California League best 85-55 mark.

Decker was drafted by the Giants in the 21st round of the 1988 draft and made his major league debut in 1990. During his seven year major league career, the former catcher posted a .221 average with 13 home runs and 72 RBIs between San Francisco, Florida, Colorado and Anaheim.

Ross Grimsley joins Connecticut's staff after enjoying considerable success as the pitching coach for the Low-A Augusta GreenJackets. 2009 will mark Grimsley's 11th season in San Francisco's minor league system and first in Double-A. Under Grimsley's tutelage, Augusta thrived. In 2007, the staff posted a South Atlantic League best 3.02 ERA to go along with an 89-51 record and 18 shutouts. 2008 was more of the same as Augusta posted an 88-50 mark and a 2.95 ERA, both tops in the league. Grimsley spent 11 seasons in the major leagues and was named to the 1978 All-Star team when he won 20 games for Montreal. Grimsley won 124 games against 99 losses and posted a 3.81 ERA in over 2,000 innings with Cincinnati, Baltimore, Montreal and Cleveland.

Garey Ingram joins the Defenders after spending the last seven years as a coach in the Dodgers' system. Ingram's last two seasons were spent with the Midwest League Great Lakes Loons. In 2007 under Ingram, the Loons were fourth in batting average at .261 and fourth in home runs with 94. Ingram was drafted by the Dodgers in the 43rd round of the 1989 draft. Ingram hit .261 with three homers and 12 RBIs in his three-year career with the Dodgers.

Eric Ortega enters his fourth season in the organization and first year in Connecticut as the team's athletic trainer. Ortega began his career in Arizona and spent two years there before his promotion to Augusta in 2008. Ortega holds a master's degree in athletic training from the Arizona School of Health Science and a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology from CSU-Sacramento.

The Defenders home opener is scheduled for April 16th at 6:35pm against the Trenton Thunder. The season opens on the road against the Portland Sea Dogs on April 8th. The 2009 season marks the 15th season Norwich has had a Double-A franchise and the seventh season as a Giants affiliate.

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