LITTLE ROCK - The Los Angeles Angels have announced that longtime minor league manager and coach Phillip Wellman will lead the 2014 Arkansas Travelers as field manager. Wellman is well-acquainted with the Travelers and Dickey-Stephens Park after spending the previous three seasons as the hitting coach of the division rival Springfield Cardinals. He will lead a brand-new coaching staff that includes hitting coach Tom Tornincasa, pitching coach Pat Rice, athletic trainer Greg Spence and strength and conditioning coach Joe Griffin.
A veteran of 28 seasons in professional baseball, Wellman is back in a familiar role as manager where he owns a 862-939 record in 15 minor league seasons, including eight years as a manager in the Southern League with the Mississippi Braves (2007-2010) and Chattanooga Lookouts (1999, 2001-2003). Wellman, a native of Bulverde, Texas, managed the M-Braves to the 2008 Southern League Championship and more recently tutored two Texas League Players of the Year while in Springfield (Matt Adams - 2011 and Oscar Taveras - 2012).
"I'm very grateful to the Los Angeles Angels for giving me the chance to manage again," said Wellman from his home in Chattanooga, where he moved with his wife Montee during the offseason. "I have a lot to learn about the organization from top to bottom, but they've put good clubs here in Arkansas in the three years I've coached in the Texas League. I'm excited to be a part of it."
Wellman went into coaching in 1988 with the Atlanta Braves organization after the end of a four-year playing career as an outfielder and infielder in the minor leagues. He took his first managerial post in 1992 with the Gulf Coast Orioles and managed four years in Rookie-level affiliated baseball. His first full-season managing job came with Winston-Salem in 1996 in the Carolina League beginning his eight-year stint in the Cincinnati Reds farm system.
"I'm not worried so much about how the ballpark plays," Wellman said about Dickey-Stephens Park's reputation as a pitcher-friendly ballpark. "The type of team you have matters more, but the park is really nice and I've enjoyed coming to Little Rock the past three years."
Tornincasa, who joins the Angels after 14 years coaching with the San Diego Padres organization, is also familiar with Dickey-Stephens Park and the Travelers as a hitting coach with the 2007 and 2011 Texas League Champion San Antonio Missions. He spent the 2013 season as the hitting coach for the Triple-A Tucson Padres.
Rice joins the Angels and Travelers after six years with the San Francisco Giants, including the past five seasons as the pitching coach for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies. The former Seattle Mariners right hander has been a pitching coach in the minor leagues since 1995 with the Giants and Mariners including eight years as the Mariners minor league pitching coordinator.