By Joe Christensen
Tom Nieto, a catcher on the Twins’ 1987 championship team, has returned to the organization to manage their Class AA New Britain affiliate after spending last season as the New York Mets’ first base coach.
The Twins released their minor-league staff assignments today. Among the notable developments:
(*) Stan Cliburn will return for his fourth season as manager for Class AAA Rochester.
(*) Bobby Cuellar, who managed New Britain last year, returns to Rochester as pitching coach.
(*) Stu Cliburn, Rochester’s pitching coach the past three seasons, returns to New Britain as pitching coach.
(*) Jeff Smith returns for his second season as manager for Class A Fort Myers. Steve Mintz, who was pitching coach for New Britain last year, will be the Fort Myers pitching coach.
(*) Nelson Prada returns for his second season as manager for Class A Beloit, with Gary Lucas returning as the team’s pitching coach.
(*) Ray Smith returns for his 16th season as manager of Rookie-level Elizabethton.
(*) Jake Mauer returns for his second season as manager for the Twins’ Gulf Coast League affiliate, and he’ll also run the team’s extended spring training.
(*) Joel Lepel returns for his fourth year as the Twins’ minor-league field coordinator, and Eric Rasmussen was promoted to replace longtime minor-league pitching coordinator Rick Knapp, the new pitching coach for the Detroit Tigers. Rasmussen had been the Fort Myers pitching coach for 10 seasons. Bill Springman returns for his fourth season as minor-league hitting coordinator.
(*) Also, Paul Molitor, will continue his role as minor league infield/baserunning coordinator. The Twins are very lucky to keep him, with the Brewers and Mariners both looking for managers.