The three-time World Series champion San Francisco Giants have announced the 2017 field staff for their Double-A affiliate, the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Leading the team on the field this upcoming season will be former minor league infielder Kyle Haines. Haines, 34, spent the past two seasons in the same role with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, the Giants short-season club in the Northwest League. Haines will be joined on the field by returning pitching coach Steve Kline, experienced hitting coach Lipso Nava and athletic trainer Garrett Havig. Kline returns for his third season with the Squirrels while Nava arrives for his first season after spending the past nine years as a manager and coach in the Giants organization. Havig also begins his first season in Richmond and enters his eighth year with the Giants organization (staff bios listed below). The group will lead the Squirrels in their eighth season at The Diamond beginning April 6 against the Hartford Yard Goats.
"I'm excited to get things started," new Squirrels manager Kyle Haines stated. "Being in Richmond with the great environment Parney and everyone has created over the years is a great opportunity. We should have good group of guys, including some that I have worked with in the past. Of course, Double-A is one of the most important levels in a player's development. I look forward to continuing to help build the next wave of Giants homegrown champions."
Haines, 34, becomes the youngest skipper to ever lead the Squirrels franchise and replaces 2016 manager Miguel Ojeda. Haines spent the previous two seasons as the manager of the Class-A Short-Season Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the Northwest League. The Louisville, Ill., native piloted the Volcanoes to a 39-37 record in his first season in 2015 and a 32-42 record last year. He became the first former Volcano player to manage the club, having started his career with Salem-Keizer in 2004 as a player.
During his Giants minor league career, Haines played alongside the likes of Tim Lincecum, Sergio Romo, Pablo Sandoval, Jonathan Sanchez and Travis Ishikawa. The infielder was a member of four championship teams in the minor leagues (2004 Arizona Rookie League Giants, 2005 San Jose Giants, 2007 San Jose Giants, 2009 Akron Aeros). Haines notched the go-ahead RBI single in Game 5 of the 2007 California League Championship series for San Jose. In 2008, Haines enjoyed his best statistical season and made the All-Star Game in the Double-A Eastern League as a shortstop with the Connecticut Defenders.
Haines' older brother, Andy, was also a manager in affiliated baseball with the Marlins organization and currently works as the Minor League Hitting Coordinator for the Chicago Cubs. Kyle is the youngest of three siblings and attended Eastern Illinois University. He began his managing career immediately after his playing career ended, guiding the Frontier League (Ind) Grays in 2014.
Kline returns to the Squirrels for a third season as pitching coach after guiding the team to a top-two finish in the league in team ERA in his first two seasons. Kline's pitching staff turned in a franchise-best 3.12 ERA (1st in EL) in 2015 and a 3.48 ERA last year (2nd in EL). Under Kline's tutelage, Giants top pitching prospect Tyler Beede led the Eastern League in last year ( 2.81), while also finishing 2nd in the league in strikeouts (135).
Kline joined the Squirrels in 2015 after spending the previous six seasons in the same roll with the Augusta GreenJackets. Kline finished off his long and established major league career as a lefty reliever with the Giants in 2007. He appeared in 796 MLB games during his 11 year-career that began with the Cleveland Indians in 1997. The 42 year-old Pennsylvania native was an 8th round selection by Cleveland in the 1993 draft out of the University of West Virginia. He set the single-season record for appearances (89) in 2001 while with the St. Louis Cardinals and led the National League in appearances three consecutive seasons (1999-2001).
Nava joins the Squirrels and returns the role of hitting coach after spending last season as the Manager of the San Jose Giants. The Venezuelan led the Giants to a 68-72 record and a wild-card berth in the California League playoffs last year. Prior to 2016, Nava held the role of hitting coach for three years from 2013-2015. He also served as San Jose's acting manager during the final month of the 2015 season, leading the Giants to the North Division championship. Nava is in his 10th year with the San Francisco Giants organization and seventh season as a hitting coach.
Nava will be reunited with his former pitching coach Steve Kline, as the pair spent several seasons together with the Augusta GreenJackets (Single-A affiliate). Nava managed the GreenJackets from 2011-2012 and piloted the 2011 Augusta team to the the second half South Division title and reached the playoffs. His two-year managerial record was 139-138 (.502). He also served three years as the GreenJackets hitting coach from 2008-10 and worked with a number of former Squirrels players including Charlie Culberson, Johnny Monell and Jackson Williams.
Nava played 16 seasons of professional baseball from 1990-2006, including stints in the Seattle Mariners (1990-94), Boston Red Sox (1995) and Cubs (1997) organizations. The former infielder advanced as high as Triple-A. Nava also played professionally in the Mexican League and independent Texas-Louisiana and Atlantic Leagues before retiring at the end of the 2006 season. He had 1,303 hits, including 250 doubles and 110 home runs during his professional career across all levels. Nava was originally a 14th round selection of the Mariners in the 1990 draft out of Miami-Dade College.
2017 Flying Squirrels' Field Staff:
Manager: Kyle Haines
Pitching Coach: Steve Kline
Hitting Coach: Lipso Nava
Athletic Trainer: Garrett Havig
The Flying Squirrels operate year-round at The Diamond and the team store will have extended hours through the Holiday season. The store will be open 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays (Nov. 28-Dec. 23). The Squirrels will also be hosting their 7th annual Hot Stove Banquet on Thursday, Feb. 2 at The Siegel Center. Current San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy will be the keynote speaker for the event, and tickets are available online or over the phone by calling 804-359-FUNN. The Flying Squirrels eighth season of FUNN begins on April 6 at The Diamond.