A couple of key departures led to two promotions within Gabe Kapler's coaching staff and the addition of one of his former coaches.
The Giants on Tuesday announced that former Philadelphia Phillies assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero has been hired as their assistant hitting coach. Guerrero, 32, previously worked with Kapler in the Los Angeles Dodgers minor league system in 2016-17 and then joined his staff in Philadelphia. The Giants lost co-hitting coach Donnie Ecker to the Texas Rangers last week, but Justin Viele remains as hitting coach, with Guerrero and Dustin Lind making up the rest of the hitting group.
To replace Ron Wotus, who retired late in the season, the Giants promoted assistant coach Mark Hallberg to third base coach. Hallberg's position was taken by Taira Uematsu, who had spent the previous 14 seasons as a bullpen catcher.
"Mark and Taira earned these promotions through their consistent work throughout these last two seasons," Kapler said in a statement. "Mark's attention to detail and selflessness makes him a great fit for the third base coaching role. Taira has been a contributing part of the Giants organization for many years, and he will now be able to make a larger impact in his new role as a Major League coach. His versatility and preparedness, as well as his established relationships with players and staff will make an immediate difference for us.
"We're also excited to bring Pedro on board with our staff. He's an excellent complement to Justin and Dustin and provides us with a way to better connect with our Spanish-speaking hitters, particularly in the dugout during games."
That last part was something that has been a focus for Kapler in the hiring process. J.P. Martinez is a Spanish speaker on the pitching side, but the Giants did not have one on the hitting side, a gap they identified as it became clear Ecker was leaving. They will have several native Spanish-speaking hitters -- including Wilmer Flores and Thairo Estrada -- on their 2022 roster but also are looking to the future, when players like Heliot Ramos, Marco Luciano and Luis Matos arrive.
Uematsu adds a native Japanese speaker to the dugout, which could be key as the Giants chase free agents. The promotion also rewards an absolute grinder, as Uematsu has been with the organization since becoming their Triple-A bullpen catcher in 2006. Uematsu will be the first MLB coach who was born and raised in Japan.
Hallberg, 35, has perhaps the biggest shoes to fill. He'll take over for Wotus, but he has long been viewed as a rising star within the organization. Hallberg was a fundamentals coach and minor league manager in the organization before Kapler picked him as one of his final hires for his initial staff. Wotus took Hallberg under his wing and he coached several innings in the third base box during exhibition games the last two years.