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Darin Garner to Lead PaddleHeads on Field in 2020

January 15, 2020 - Pioneer League (PL) - Missoula PaddleHeads News Release

The Missoula PaddleHeads, in conjunction with the Arizona Diamondbacks, announced today that Darrin Garner, a 28-year veteran of the professional baseball, will be the new Manager for the Missoula PaddleHeads when they take the field this summer.

Garner, drafted in the 1st round of the 1985 June Draft-Secondary Phase by the Texas Rangers, spent seven seasons in the Rangers' farm system, reaching as high as AAA Oklahoma City in 1991. Immediately following his playing career, Garner took his first coaching role in 1992 where he served as the Rangers' GCL hitting coach. Following his coaching debut, Garner spent the following two seasons (1993, 1994) as the Rangers' High-A hitting coach before his move to the Seattle Mariners organization where he earned his first managerial position as the M's AZL skipper in 1997. Garner's relationship with the Mariners continued through 2015 where he served as the hitting coach in Short-Season A Everett and a Minor League Coordinator.

Joining Garner in the dugout, Missoula will see the return of Mike Benjamin, who will spend his fourth consecutive season in Missoula (Manager 2017, 2018 & Bench Coach 2019). Along with the return of Benjamin, 2019 Pitching Coach Manny Garcia has been slated to return under the same role. Continuing with the theme of familiar faces, Jose Amado will return to Missoula as Hitting Coach, the same role he served in 2018 and Manny Garcia will return for his second consecutive season as the club's Pitching Coach. Rounding out the field staff, will be Athletic Trainer Chris Schepel, Video Assistant Joe Hirsch, and a Strength and Conditioning Coach to be named at a later date.

Mike Benjamin is a welcome return to the PaddleHeads in 2020 as the Bench Coach. "Benji" returns after two successful seasons as the Manager of the franchise in 2017, 2018, and as the team's Bench Coach in 2019. In 2017, he led Missoula to the playoffs and was the first manager in franchise history to do so by winning both halves in the season. In 2018, the Osprey narrowly missed the playoffs in both halves and received rave reviews for keeping one of the youngest teams in the league consistent and competitive throughout the entire season.

As a player, Benjamin was a star at Arizona State before being drafted in the third round of the 1987 amateur draft by the San Francisco Giants. Benjamin played 13 seasons in the big leagues taking the field for the Giants (1989- 1995), Phillies (1996), Red Sox (1997-1998) and Pirates (1999-2000, 2002).

Manny Garcia returns to Missoula as the Pitching Coach after a successful 2019 campaign where he led his pitching staff to finish the Pioneer League season ranked 1st in Strikeouts, 2nd in Wins, 3rd in ERA, and 1st in Saves. Prior to Garcia's tenure in Missoula, he spent three seasons as the Pitching Coach for the D-backs Arizona Rookie League team. During his playing career, also with the D-backs, he was both a catcher (2008) and a pitcher (2009-2010) giving him an unique perspective that most pitching coaches do not have. This is his 12th season with Arizona as either a player or a coach.

Jose Amado joins the PaddleHeads staff as their Hitting Coach. 2020 will be Amado's second season in Missoula, after spending 2019 in the same job for the AZL Diamondbacks. Amado played 14 professional seasons, primarily as a corner infielder in the Mariners, Royals and Reds organizations. Prior to serving as the hitting coach for the AZL Diamondbacks in 2019, Amado was the hitting coach for the Hillsboro Hops in 2016, Kane County Cougars in 2017, and Missoula Osprey in 2018.

"I want to personally thank the Arizona Diamondbacks for providing us another amazing coaching staff," said PaddleHeads Vice President Matt Ellis. "I personally worked with our new manager Darrin Garner when he managed the Seattle Mariners affiliate in Lancaster (California League) in 1999. Darrin is a quality coach and person. The fans and players will benefit from his leadership, knowledge, and personality. And then getting Benji, Manny, and Jose back in our dugout is just awesome. What a staff! They will get the best out of our players on and off the field this summer!"

The list of Missoula's coaching influence continues to be evident at the major league level, as 13 alumni of the franchise's coaching staff are set to grace MLB dugouts and Player Development Staff in 2020. Former Osprey Pitching Coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. will return for his second season the Miami Marlins as the Pitching Coach, bringing along former Missoula Pitching Coach Wellington Cepeda to serve as the team's Bullpen Coach. Former Missoula Osprey, Arizona Diamondbacks manager, and now World Series Champion, Chip Hale returns as the bench coach for the Washington Nationals. The Cincinnati Reds will host a trio of Missoula alumni in 2020 as former Missoula Hitting Coach Alan Zinter takes the reigns as the Reds Hitting Coach, former Manager Joe Mather joins the club as Assistant Hitting Coach, and former Osprey Hitting Coach J.R. House returns as the 3rd base coach.

The Arizona Diamondbacks major league coaching staff has three former Missoula Osprey coaches on their staff, Tony Perezchica as the third base coach, Robby Hammock as the Quality Control/Catching Coach, and Luis Urueta will serve as the club's Bench Coach. Lastly, after four years as Manager of the San Diego Padres, former Osprey player and coach, Andy Green will act as the Chicago Cubs Bench Coach.

In the Diamondbacks minor league system, former Osprey Pitching Coaches Gil Heredia and Dan Carlson are the Short-Season Pitching Coordinator and Pitching Coordinator respectively. The duo of Pitching Coaches are joined by 2013 Missoula alumni Jose Queliz who will serve as the D-Backs Rehab Coach.

The new look PaddleHeads 2020 season kicks off with their home season on Friday, June 19 when the PaddleHeads take on the Idaho Falls Chukars. Season tickets and other ticket packages are on sale now at the MSO Hub located at 140 N. Higgins, online at, and by phone at (406) 543-3300.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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