Dayton, Ohio-The Dayton Dragons announced their 2014 manager, pitching coach, and hitting coach today, as assigned by the Cincinnati Reds.
Jose Nieves will return to the Dragons for his second season as manager. Tony Fossas returns as pitching coach for his fifth year with the Dragons. Luis Bolivar, a Dragons player in 2003 and '04, will join the team as hitting coach. The Reds also announced that Tyler Steele will return to the Dragons for his sixth season as athletic trainer.
Nieves (nee-EV-ess) served as Dragons manager in 2013, leading the club to steady improvement over the course of the season. The 2013 Dragons finished the second half with a 37-33 record after going 28-40 in the first half. Also in 2013, the Dragons set a franchise record for fewest errors in a season. Nieves is in his fifth season in the Reds organization. He previously served as manager of the Reds Venezuelan Summer League club in 2010 and the Reds Arizona League affiliate at Goodyear in 2011 and '12.
Nieves, a former shortstop and second baseman, enjoyed a five-year Major League playing career. He spent parts of three seasons with the Chicago Cubs from 1998-2000 and played the 2001 and '02 seasons with the Anaheim Angels. Nieves appeared in 212 Major League games and also played in the Minor Leagues for 13 seasons from 1995-2008, appearing in 790 games. Nieves was born in Venezuela and now makes his home in Buckeye, Arizona with his wife and four children.
Fossas (FOSS-us) has become a familiar face at Fifth Third Field. He joined the team as pitching coach in 2009 and remained in that role for three seasons before spending the 2012 season elsewhere in the Reds organization. He returned to the Dragons in 2013 and was instrumental in the development of Robert Stephenson, the Reds 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. In 2011 with the Dragons, Fossas oversaw a pitching staff that emerged as the best in Dragons history, breaking the all-time Midwest League record for strikeouts in a season and the franchise record for best team earned run average.
Fossas enjoyed a 21-year professional playing career and pitched in the Major Leagues for all or parts of 12 seasons with the Red Sox, Cardinals, Rangers, Brewers, Mariners, Cubs, and Yankees. Despite not reaching the Major Leagues until the age of 30, Fossas pitched in 567 big league games from 1988 until 1999. Known as one of baseball's best situational left-handed relievers, Fossas finished third in the American League in games pitched in 1993 with 71 appearances out of the Red Sox bullpen. His best season came in 1995 with the Cardinals when he pitched in 58 games and allowed only six runs, posting a 1.47 earned run average with a 3-0 record.
Bolivar (BULL-uh-varr) joins the Dragons in 2014, his second year as a coach in the Reds organization. He served as the hitting coach with the Arizona League Reds in 2013. Bolivar, who resides in the Dayton suburb of Vandalia, spent nine years in the Minor Leagues as a player and gained experience at every level of the Reds organization. The former infielder represented the Dragons in the 2004 Midwest League All-Star Game and becomes the first former Dragons player to return to the team in a coaching role. On April 15, 2004, Bolivar belted a game-winning "walk-off" home run for the Dragons at Fifth Third Field against Lansing. At the time, it was just the third walk-off homer in Dragons history and is currently one of only 18 over the Dragons 14-year history. On April 7, 2008, Bolivar became just the 11th player in Southern League history to collect six hits in one game as a member of the Chattanooga Lookouts.
Nieves, Fossas, and Bolivar combine for 43 years of professional baseball playing experience and 11 years of coaching experience in the Reds organization.
The Dragons open their 15th season in the Midwest League on April 3rd vs. West Michigan at Fifth Third Field. Call the Dragons at (937) 228-2287 for information on group outings, party decks, and luxury suites, or to be added to the Dragons Wait List for season tickets.