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The Madison Record

Trash Pandas To Open Home Season May 11 With Outstanding Coaching Staff

MADISON- With the 2021 season fast approaching for the Rocket City Trash Pandas, the usual banter of baseball is officially underway with the naming of the complete coaching staff for the inaugural season of the Double-A team of the Los Angeles Angels.

The parent team recently named the coaching staff for the Trash Pandas starting with manager Jay Bell who was scheduled to lead the team in 2020 before the season was scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 18-year Major League Baseball veteran first became a Minor League manager in 2017 in the New York Yankees’ organization. Bell was also a hitting coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates and bench coach for the Cincinnati Reds prior to his move to the manager’s position.

The 2021 coaching staff for the Trash Pandas includes a combined 26 years of Major League playing experience and 21 seasons of managing and coaching in the pro ranks. Those chosen have a wide variety of experiences to utilize in their coaching of the Trash Pandas including a worker in a bat company, SEC strength and conditioning coach and a U.S. Military Veteran.

Hitting Coach: Kenny Hook, he spent the last six seasons with the Texas Rangers organization. Prior to his stint with the Rangers, he coached in the independent American Association. His playing time in the professional ranks came in the Minor Leagues.

Pitching Coach: Michael Wuertz, is in his fifth season as a coach after playing eight seasons in the Major Leagues including five with the Chicago Cubs and three with the Oakland A’s. He played in 426 games as a relief pitcher.

Defensive Coach: Derek Florko, is in his third season with the Angels and comes to the professional ranks through an unusual way. He never played baseball professionally, but instead, has had praise for his work in both college and high school organizations and he is certified by the Titleist Performance Institute for his expert biomechanics teaching of swinging motions in both baseball and golf. He was the Manager of Hitting for AXE Batting Company, which just happens to manufacture bats for many Major League players.

Strength & Conditioning Coach: Jon Hill, he was scheduled to be on board with the Trash Pandas last season after spending 2019 in Mobile. Prior to being with the Angels, he spent three years with the University of Kentucky football team in the strength and conditioning training portion of the Wildcats. Hitting close to home is the fact he served in the U.S. Army and Federal Government for 13 years including active duty in the Iraq War as a counterintelligence agent.

Athletic Trainer: Tusuke Takahashi, is in his fourth season in professional baseball.

The Rocket City Trash Pandas has been set to be among the 120 affiliated teams in the revamped structure of Minor League Baseball in what is now being named the “Professional Development League” and has a 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels. The Trash Pandas will be in the eight-team Double-A South League along with teams in Birmingham, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Biloxi, Montgomery, Pensacola and Jackson, Miss.

The 2021 season will begin on the road in Chattanooga for the Trash Pandas as they face the Lookouts May 4-9. The expected home-opener for the new team will be held Tuesday, May 11, against the Tennessee (Knoxville) Smokies at Toyota Field. First-pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. with game giveaway a Toyota Field replica. The event will also feature a spectacular fireworks show. The complete 2021 schedule will consist of 120 games with 60 home dates. Ticket information is available on the Trash Pandas’ website: trashpandasbaseball.com.

The baseball organization is also looking for a “few good organizations” to enhance the concessions department at Toyota Field while help generate revenue to assist their own organization. Local groups are encouraged to register to assist the concessions at the Trash Pandas games while earning money for those groups in a win-win situation. Contact the Trash Pandas for all the details.

To help get the excitement at a high-pitch level to start the first season of Trash Pandas baseball, be sure to tune in The Josh Caray Show and It’s Ricky Fernandez podcasts at trashpandasbaseball.com. That’s where you can find out the up-to-date latest within the Trash Pandas and all of baseball.

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