NFL, NBA, NHL stats

Hector De La Cruz To Manage Osprey In 2010

December 22, 2009 - Pioneer League (PL) - Missoula Osprey News Release

MISSOULA, MT - Hector De La Cruz, who managed the Missoula Osprey to the franchise's second Pioneer League Championship in 2006, was announced today as the club's manager for the 2010 season. The announcement comes by the club in conjunction with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

It will be De La Cruz's tenth season with the Diamondbacks organization. De La Cruz was promoted to manage the Advanced-A Visalia Oaks of the California League in 2007 and then managed the Double-A Mobile BayBears in 2008 and 2009.

"This is Christmas come early for the Osprey organization," explained Osprey Executive Vice President Matt Ellis. "Hector De La Cruz is a top level Manager. He is one of the most popular managers in team history. His positive attitude and extensive baseball experience are a huge asset to our organization. We couldn't be happier to welcome Hector back to Missoula!"

Prior to managing the Osprey, De La Cruz spent four seasons as a hitting coach, including two seasons in Missoula. In 2001 and 2002 as the hitting coach for the Osprey, De La Cruz directed one of the best Osprey offensive teams in their history.

The 2001 Osprey still holds team records in average (.284 - tied with 1999), hits (768) and doubles (146), and held the team home run mark (69) until last season's squad set the new standard (80).

De La Cruz, who has also served as the hitting coach for the Dominican Republic during the World Baseball Classic, replaces Audo Vicente, who will now skipper Visalia.

De La Cruz played seven seasons in the Toronto Blue Jays farm system as an outfielder and third baseman. He also played professionally overseas in Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.

Jason Hardtke returns as the hitting coach, while former major league pitcher, Gil Heredia will be the pitching coach. The field staff also includes athletic trainer Joe Metz, who is back for a second season.

Hardtke played parts of three seasons in the major leagues, playing a total of 67 games for the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs. A career .231 hitter, primarily used as a pinch-hitter, Hardtke had a career-best .268 batting average in 56 at-bats with the Mets in 2007, with two home runs and eight RBIs.

Hardtke was drafted in the third round by the Cleveland Indians in the 1990 amateur draft. He played parts of 10 seasons in the minor leagues with seven different organizations, and hit .291 for his minor-league career. His best season came in 1999, when he hit .328 with 12 home runs and 61 RBIs for Triple-A Indianapolis.

Heredia joins the Osprey after spending part of last season in Yakima, where he also served as pitching coach. He started 2009 as an auxiliary coach in the D-Backs organization before receiving the assignment in Yakima midway through last season.

Heredia spent ten seasons in the major leagues, primarily as a reliever until later in his career. For his career, which included stops in San Francisco, Montreal, Texas and Oakland, Heredia was 57-51 in 267 appearances, including 128 starts. Heredia, who pitched just over 950 innings in his career, was a starter for Oakland during his last four seasons in the Major Leagues.

His best season was in 2000 with the A's, as he posted a 15-11 record in 32 starts, completed two games and posted a 4.11 ERA, good enough to rank 7th in the American League. He also finished in the top 25 in the league in batting average against, games started, innings pitched and wins that season, and helped the A's win the American League West Division title.

Metz is in his second season both with the Osprey and with the D-Backs' organization. Metz was born in Millington, TN, and was raised in Jacksonville, NC, where he calls home during the off-season. Metz received his bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, and attended grad school at Louisiana State University.

The Osprey will open the 2009 season with a four-game series at Helena on June 21, and will host the Billings Mustangs for their home opener on June 25 at Ogren Park Allegiance Field.

• Discuss this story on the Pioneer League message board...

Pioneer League Stories from December 22, 2009

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.

Other Recent Missoula Osprey Stories

Sports Statistics from the Stats Crew