ARLINGTON, Texas (105.3 THE FAN/AP) — The Texas Rangers are making some adjustments to manager Jeff Banister’s staff, which will no longer include bullpen coach Brad Holman after a rough season for the relievers.
Holman’s contract option for 2018 is not being exercised by the Rangers. Hector Ortiz, the team’s first base coach the past three years, will take over as the bullpen coach and continue his role as catching instructor.
“An ex-catcher who communicates very well with a pitching staff, who sees and thinks situationally with the approach of pitching and different situations throughout the game,” Banister said of Ortiz. “I think it just adds a different element to this group.”
Texas also exercised its 2019 option on Banister’s contract Wednesday. When he initially joined the Rangers, Banister got a three-year contract with an option for 2018. That option was exercised last year when he got a reworked contract that added the 2019 option.
Pitching coach Doug Brocail, third base coach Tony Beasley, bench coach Steve Buechele, hitting coach Anthony Iapoce and assistant hitting coach Justin Mashore are all expected to return next season.
The team said major league field coordinator Josh Bonifay will also return, but in a role to be determined that could be at the major or minor league level.
The Rangers also formally released Prince Fielder who retired after being injured during the 2016 season.
Banister has a 261-225 record over three seasons in his first managerial job. The Rangers were AL West Division champions his first two seasons but missed the playoffs this year with a 78-84 record, largely because of the bullpen woes, though they weren’t eliminated from wild card contention until the 157th game.
Holman had been the bullpen coach the past two seasons. Before that, he spent time seven years as a pitching coach in the Rangers minor league system, with stops at Low-A Hickory, High-A Myrtle Beach and Triple-A Round Rock.
“By no stretch are we putting the bullpen struggles on Brad,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “We all came in thinking we were going to have one of the better bullpens in the league. We thought we had one of the better pens. We weren’t alone.”
After leading the majors with a club-record 56 saves in 2016, the Rangers this season had only 29 — the second-lowest total in the majors. They converted 29 of 50 saves, that 58-percent success rate the second-lowest in the American League. Relievers allowed a majors-high 40 percent (104 of 263) of inherited runners to score.
Sam Dyson, who became the closer in 2015, lost that role after blowing his first three save opportunities two weeks into the season. He was designated for assignment in June before getting traded to San Francisco.
Hard-throwing Matt Bush, who has discussed with Rangers officials the possibility of becoming a starter, also had a stint as the closer before left-hander Alex Claudio was used primarily in that role late in the season.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)