ARLINGTON (CBS SPORTS.COM) – The Milwaukee Brewers lost their hitting coach when Dale Sveum was hired as the Cubs new manager. Monday, the Brewers filled the hole by hiring Johnny Narron. It unites him with his older brother Jerry, who is the Brewers bench coach. Still, that’s not really the story here.
Johnny Narron has been with Rangers star Josh Hamilton for a long time. Hamilton has known Narron since he was nine years old and playing on a youth basketball team with Narron’s son. Once becoming a professional baseball player, Hamilton had the well-documented struggles with addiction and has since cleaned himself up. And Narron’s been right with him every step of the way.
When Hamilton finally emerged on the 2007 Reds, Narron was considered Hamilton’s “handler” by many and never left his side. His technical title was video and administrative coach. When Hamilton was shipped to the Rangers via trade the following offseason, Narron went to Texas as well, getting the title of assistant hitting coach. But he was basically Hamilton’s shadow. When Hamilton was answering questions at All-Star Game media day about Rangers fan Shannon Stone’s death, for example, Narron was sitting right next to him.
“I’m with him and I’m for him 24 hours a day,” Narron said (MLB.com). “I’ve been very blessed to be a part of this whole trip. I’m able to be there and support a young man who has turned his life over to God. I love Josh. I know that Josh loves me. We respect each other. It’s a relationship that we both believe was meant to be.”
Hamilton obviously has a strong support system, but losing Narron might test his mettle a bit. Obviously they won’t stop communicating, but that’s not the same as being with someone all day every day during the grueling 162-game baseball season.
“We’ve been in touch with Josh — before and after the hiring — and will sit down to discuss the best way to move forward,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “We’re confident we will continue to support Josh and all of our players as needed. In anticipation of losing Johnny, we had some discussion about this, but will be in better position to address that specifically once we’ve all put our heads together.”
Hopefully everything works out.