There was no shortage of excitement in Jeff Mantos voice on Tuesday morning as he discussed working with Harold Baines next season.
The White Sox named Baines, who last season was the teams first-base coach, assistant hitting coach for the 2013 season.
The team also announced the returns of Manto, the clubs hitting coach, pitching coach Don Cooper, third-base coach Joe McEwing and bench coach Mark Parent and also elevated Daryl Boston to first-base coach and Bobby Thigpen to bullpen coach.
Boston spent last season as a roving minor-league outfield instructor for the White Sox while Thigpen -- who takes over after Juan Nieves was named the Boston Red Sox pitching coach -- was the pitching coach at Double-A Birmingham in 2012.
Though Baines officially moved into his new role on Tuesday, its a duty he performed last season alongside Manto, who was in his first season as hitting coach.
Manto said he leaned heavily upon his one-time teammate last season and has no doubt the two share the same ideals about hitting, a critical component for their new relationship to work.
I dont think Bainsey would have walked into it if the message wasnt the same, Manto said. Were on the same page with our language and our thoughts. Its not even going to be a transition.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said the move began to evolve last season at Baines request. Several teams made the move to two hitting coaches ahead of the White Sox, including the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres. Ventura said on a phone call Thursday he could see a connection between Manto and Baines form early on.
Harold enjoyed it, Ventura said. Bouncing stuff off coaches, we do a lot of that going back and forth together. For Jeff, having somebody like Harold is valuable.
The bond between Manto and Baines dates back to 1995, when the two played together for the Baltimore Orioles. Manto blasted a career-high 17 home runs in 89 games that season for the Orioles while Baines hit .299 with 24 homers.
What impressed Manto most about Baines is how hard the first overall pick of the 1977 amateur baseball draft worked at his craft on the way to 2,866 career hits. Not only that, but when the two talked hitting, Baines, unlike many great hitters, could relay in laymans terms what made him successful. Those cerebral conversations had Manto convinced Baines could relate to hitters about what he saw from the first-base box.
He wasnt a guy who didnt know how he did it, he was a great hitter who knows exactly what he did, Manto said. Hes definitely in tune with what the players are doing today. Hes not just on top of mechanics. One thing we focused on last season was What were you thinking? and thats why we were successful.
With Baines on board, Manto believes the White Sox should have even more time to hone players hitting abilities as they move forward. The two will split the workload evenly, which should allow each ample time to work with hitters in the cage and video room. Though Baines and Manto will sometimes use different drills to teach hitters, the message will remain constant.
It just alleviates the workload, Manto said. Nobody will be left out and nobody will be slighted. I trust him as much as I trust anyone.