The Royals on Monday announced a number of changes to the coaching and support staff. They also have created a new front-office position.
Austin Driggers was hired for the new front-office position of sports science coordinator. He had been strength and conditioning coach at Class AA Northwest Arkansas for the previous three seasons.
A number of teams already have sports science specialists in their front offices. What does that person do?
Toronto Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shaprio answered that question for Sports Illustrated in April: “Breaking it down to the absolute simplicity: How do we keep the players on the field as much as possible and—when they’re on the field—performing at the highest potential level of performance possible?
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“And that involves mental, it involves physical and it involves fundamentals, too. Coordination with the coaching staff is the final piece of the puzzle. It’s every piece of the puzzle.”
The Royals also promoted former Twins/Padres/Mets outfielder Brian Buchanan to the Royals’ assistant hitting coach. Last season, Buchanan was the hitting coach at Northwest Arkansas.
Luis Perez will hold the dual role of assistant major-league strength and conditioning coach and Latin America strength and conditioning coordinator. He was the Latin America minor-league strength and conditioning coach last season.
Ryan Eigsti, who was picked by the Royals in the 15th round of the 2007 draft, will be the bullpen catcher. Eigsti will take the place of Cody Clark, who had been bullpen catcher the last three seasons. Clark will be an advanced scout for the Royals.
Finally, Sean Bardenett will be the team’s manual tissue specialist (massage therapist).
The Royals announced that the rest of the big-league coaching staff will return next season.