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Franklin to return as Thunder skipper
12/21/2012 4:46 PM ET
TRENTON, N.J. -- The Trenton Thunder, Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, announced on Friday that 2012 Eastern League Manager of the Year Tony Franklin will return to Trenton for the seventh consecutive season.

Franklin will be joined in the dugout once again by pitching coach and former Major Leaguer Tommy Phelps, who returns for a fifth season, as well as coach Luis Dorante and athletic trainer Scott DiFrancesco, each returning for year two in Trenton. The coaching staff will include two new additions in hitting coach Justin Turner and strength and conditioning coach Orlando Crance.

"Tony Franklin is a true professional and a great asset to the Thunder and our community," said Thunder general manager, Will Smith. "We're happy to welcome Tony back to guide the team during our 20th season celebration."

Tony Franklin guided the Thunder to back-to-back Eastern League Championships in 2007 and 2008, as well as Eastern League Championship Series appearances in 2010 and 2012. He has led Trenton to the postseason in four of his six seasons, and owns a career managerial record of 1,080-973 including a record of 488-390 with Trenton (both records including postseason games). The skipper recorded his 1,000th career managerial win and was named Eastern League Manager of the Year in 2012.

The 2008 Eastern League Championship was Franklin's third title as manager. In 1993, he led South Bend (Class A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) to the Midwest League Championship. Prior to his time in Trenton, Franklin spent most of the last 11 years as the Minor League infield instructor for the San Diego Padres. His managerial career began with the White Sox organization as the manager for Geneva (N.Y.) of the New York-Penn League in 1982.

Franklin spent four seasons in Geneva, making the playoffs in 1985. After one season with Wytheville (Rookie-level Appalachian League), he guided the White Sox affiliate in the Florida State League (Class A Advanced), the Sarasota White Sox, to a playoff appearance in 1989. Franklin spent two years as the skipper of the Birmingham Barons of the Southern League (Double-A), including 81 wins in 1991 and a berth in the League Championship Series.

Tommy Phelps will return for his fifth season as the pitching coach for the Thunder. Phelps pitched for the Florida Marlins in 2003 and 2004, including a 2003 season in which he went 3-2 with a 4.00 ERA in 27 games (seven starts). He was part of a Marlins team that won the World Series over the Yankees. Phelps pitched in 29 games for Milwaukee in 2005, and went 7-4 with a 4.45 ERA in 2006 with Columbus (Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees). Phelps was originally an eighth-round pick by Montreal in the June 1992 First-Year Player Draft.

Justin Turner has spent the last two seasons as the Tampa Yankees (Class A Advanced) hitting coach after spending one year with the Charleston RiverDogs (Class A). Turner was originally selected by the Angels in the eighth round of the 2001 Draft. He played four seasons of affiliated baseball in the Angels (2001-04) and Red Sox (2004) organizations.

Luis Dorante spent last season as coach for the Trenton Thunder and the prior four years in the Pirates organization, serving as the Latin American field coordinator in 2011. From 2008-2010, he was the Pirates bullpen coach, having joined the Major League staff on Nov. 20, 2007. He served the Florida Marlins in the same capacity during the 2005 campaign.

Dorante's managerial career began with the Montreal Expos in the (Rookie-level) Gulf Coast League in 1995. The former Harrisburg Senators skipper returns to the Eastern League for the first time since the 2001 season. In 11 seasons as a Minor League manager, Dorante led his team to the playoffs four times and compiled a record of 671-696. Primarily a catcher during his playing days, Luis also made appearances at first base, third base and in the outfield during his six-year Minor League career.

Scott DiFrancesco, the club's athletic trainer, has been in the Yankees organization for six years after spending last year with Trenton. Prior to that, he was with Tampa in 2011 and spent the previous three seasons with Charleston. He completed an internship at the Yankees complex in Tampa, Fla. in 2006. He has a Bachelor of Science in athletic training from Ball State University.

The 2013 Trenton Thunder season will begin on Thu, April 4, at Portland with the home opener slated for Thu, April 11 vs. Richmond. Season tickets and group outings are on sale now by calling 609-394-3300.

The Trenton Thunder, Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, are located in Trenton, N.J., and play in the 12 team Eastern League. The Thunder have drawn more than 7.7 million fans in 19 years, and have won the three major awards that Minor League Baseball teams can win: the Johnson Trophy for the "Nation's Best Franchise" (2005), the Larry MacPhail Trophy for Outstanding Club Promotion (2003) and the Bob Frietas Award for Long-Term Success (1998, given byBaseball America). The team has given back more than $4.7 million worth of goods, services and monetary donations through Trenton Thunder Charities, under the Grand Slam We Care Foundation umbrella. The Thunder can be found online at, at, and at and on by searching "AATrentonThunder."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.