Birmingham, AL - The Chicago White Sox announced today that Julio Vinas will return to the Birmingham Barons for his second stint as manager for the 2017 season. Former MLB pitcher Jose Bautista is set to take over as pitching coach and former Barons catcher Cole Armstrong will be the new hitting coach. James Kruk returns as head athletic trainer, and Tim Rodmaker will once again be the Barons strength and conditioning coach.
Vinas enters his fourth season as Barons manager after leading Birmingham from 2013-15 compiling a 206-213 record. During his first tenure as Barons manager he led the organization to its 14th Southern League Championship during the inaugural season at Regions Field in 2013. In 2016, Vinas managed the White Sox Triple-A affiliate, Charlotte Knights, to a 65-79 record finishing just a ½ game shy of the International League South Division title.
Prior to joining the Barons in 2013, Vinas led the Class-A Kannapolis Intimidators to a record of 61-76 during the 2012 season and the Class-A Winston-Salem Dash to a record of 69-71 in 2011.
A native of Miami, FL., and a resident of Hialeah, FL., Vinas was originally drafted by the White Sox in the 33rd round of the 1991 free-agent draft. Vinas, 43, enjoyed an 11-year Minor League playing career with four different organizations including the White Sox. He spent the 1995 season with the Barons as the team's catcher while leading a potent offense that included fan favorites Mike Cameron and Charles Poe. Under Terry Francona, the Barons finished with a record of 80-64 while Vinas hit .269 (100-for-372) with six home runs and 61 RBI.
His coaching career began in the Orioles organization in 2001 as the Field Coach with the Gulf Coast Orioles. From 2002-04 Vinas served as a Roving Hitting Instructor for the Orioles before spending six seasons as their Minor League Hitting Coordinator from 2005-10.
"We are excited to welcome Julio Vinas back to Birmingham to lead the Barons in 2017," said Barons General Manager Jonathan Nelson. "Julio and his family not only enjoyed their previous time in Birmingham but contributed to this community in so many positive ways. When you look back at our first season at Regions Field, it was Julio who helped make 2013 so special as we captured the Southern League Championship in dramatic fashion."
The Barons pitching staff will be led by Jose Bautista, who enters his 9th season of coaching in the White Sox system and 17th season in professional baseball. Bautista was the pitching coach with Class-A Winston-Salem in 2016 and spent the previous five seasons (2011-15) as pitching coach for Class-A Kannapolis. Under his guidance, Kannapolis led the South Atlantic League in shutouts in 2015 with 13. He also served as the White Sox Latin Roving Instructor from 2009-10 and served as pitching coach for Short Season Great Falls in 2008.
Bautista, 52, spent parts of nine seasons pitching in the majors with five different organizations. He posted a career record of 32-42 with a 4.62 ERA and three saves over 312 career appearances. He pitched four seasons with the Baltimore Orioles (1988-91) and two each with the Chicago Cubs (1993-94) and San Francisco Giants (1995-96). He finished his Major League career in 1997 spending time with both the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals.
He began his coaching career in the Kansas City Royals organization as the pitching coach for Class-A Burlington (2001-02), Short Season Idaho Falls (2003-06) and again in Burlington during the 2007 season.
Cole Armstrong in his fourth season as a coach in the White Sox system returns to the Southern League and the Barons as hitting coach in 2017. Armstrong, 33, spent the 2016 season as manager for Class-A Kannapolis leading the Intimidators to a 58-82 record. In his first managerial assignment in 2015 he led Short Season Great Falls to a 35-39 record. He began his coaching career as hitting instructor for the Arizona League White Sox in 2014.
The former catcher was drafted out of Chipola College in Marianna, FL. by the Atlanta Braves in the 12th round of the 2001 draft and spent ten seasons playing in the minors. Armstrong suited up for the Barons from 2006-08 and 2010 with his best season coming in 2010 when he hit .276 with 8 home runs, 43 RBI and 33 runs scored in 97 games played.
James Kruk, 33, enters his ninth season in the White Sox system and his second as head athletic trainer with the Barons. Previously, Kruk served four years as the head trainer for Short Season Great Falls from 2009-12 before spending the 2013 season with Short Season Bristol. He spent the 2014-15 seasons as head athletic trainer with Class-A Kannapolis.
Tim Rodmaker also returns to Birmingham for his third season as the team's strength and conditioning coach. He has been a member of the White Sox organization since 2006 with stops in Single-A Kannapolis and Short Season Great Falls.
"We are excited to welcome back Cole Armstrong, now as a coach, along with James Kruk and Tim Rodmaker and look forward to working with Jose Bautista," Nelson added.
The Barons will open the 2017 season on Thursday, April 6th on the road against the Jackson Generals, Double-A Affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. A printable version of the full schedule for the 2017 Barons season can be found under the "Schedule" menu header online at www.barons.com. A full promotional calendar with featured giveaways, entertainers and a date for the 22nd Annual Rickwood Classic will be released in early 2017. All game times and promotions are subject to change.