Twins add Brunansky, Cuellar, Steinbach to staff

Twins add Brunansky, Cuellar, Steinbach to staff

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Twins have finalized their overhauled coaching staff, hiring two familiar former players and a well-regarded minor league teacher to assist manager Ron Gardenhire.

Tom Brunansky is the new hitting coach, Bobby Cuellar will be the bullpen coach and Terry Steinbach has been tabbed as the bench coach and catching instructor, the team announced Monday.

The Twins earlier let go three of Gardenhire's long-time assistants; third base coach Steve Liddle, bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek and first base coach Jerry White, plus head trainer Rick McWane, a reaction to a second straight season of close to 100 losses.

Pitching coach Rick Anderson was the only one who kept the same role. Scott Ullger, most recently the bench coach, was reassigned to first base coach and outfielder instructor. Joe Vavra was moved from hitting coach to third base coach and infield instructor.

Brunansky, the right fielder on Minnesota's 1987 World Series championship team who spent six-plus of his 14 major league seasons with the Twins, was the hitting coach for Triple-A Rochester this year. He was a coach with the organization's rookie league team in 2010 and was the hitting coach at Double-A New Britain in 2011. His quick rise and the positive reviews from players framed him as an obvious candidate to eventually join the major league staff, but general manager Terry Ryan said he didn't have a hidden motive.

``You're not only developing players in the minor leagues, but you're also developing staff for future opportunities,'' Ryan said. ``That wasn't the intention at the time because we didn't anticipate going through another tough year. It just happened that way.''

Ryan acknowledged the benefit of having recognizable, accomplished former players on the staff. The built-in respect there certainly helps both Brunansky and Steinbach, who has never been a full-time coach because he wanted to spend time with his family he missed out on as a player. The native of New Ulm, Minn., and former University of Minnesota standout played with the Twins for three of his 14 years in the majors before retiring after the 1999 season. Steinbach made his name with Oakland, winning a World Series with the A's in 1989.

He has been a guest instructor in spring training for the Twins for the last 13 years.

``He's been around us for quite a few years. Anybody you talk to regards him as an awful good fit on a major league staff, and he has one heck of a playing resume,'' Ryan said. ``I think he's got a lot to offer.''

Cuellar was Rochester's pitching coach for the last four years, his second stint in that role. He was New Britain's manager in 2008 and the bullpen coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006 and 2007. Before that, he spent four seasons as the Twins' Triple-A pitching coach. In 2002, he was credited with helping a young Johan Santana develop the trademark changeup he used to become a two-time AL Cy Young Award winner.

Cuellar also is fluent in Spanish, fulfilling the Twins' desire to add a coach who could better communicate with their players born in Latin countries.

``He's got a lot of knowledge, a lot of familiarity, and he knows Gardy and (Anderson) well. Chemistry is important on every major league staff,'' Ryan said


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Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

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Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

PITTSBURGH -- No. 1 Virginia allowed just seven points in the first half and secured the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title outright with a 66-37 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Freshman guard De'Andre Hunter came off the bench to lead the Cavaliers (26-2, 14-1 ACC) with 14 points in a game that didn't take big offensive efforts from Virginia's regulars. Of the five starters, only guard Ty Jerome exceeded his season average with 13 points.

The game was never competitive, as Virginia started on an 8-0 run and Pitt didn't make a field goal until Jared Wilson-Frame hit a 3-pointer at the midway point of the first half.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett rested most of his regulars in the second half. Reserve Nigel Johnson added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

Parker Stewart led Pitt (8-22, 0-17) with 12 points, all on 3-pointers. Pitt had next to no presence inside. The Panthers were outscored 28-8 in the paint and out-rebounded 36-24. Seven of Pitt's 11 made field goals were from beyond the arc.

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.

A quick start

Strong starts go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a group in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the opening 20 minutes.


Andre Burakovsky snapping a second period slump

It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked for much of the season.

Ovechkin's two-goal third period

Buffalo would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play from the office. He would later add a deflection goal to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.