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Sakata returns to San Jose dugout

Giants also bring back coaches Couchee, Nava in 2014
January 8, 2014

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Giants announced their 2014 coaching staff today with Lenn Sakata returning to the club as manager.

Sakata served as San Jose's manager during the 1999, 2001 and 2004-2007 seasons. Pitching coach Mike Couchee and hitting coach Lipso Nava return to the staff while Garret Havig joins the team as athletic trainer and Mike Lidge as strength and conditioning coach.

Sakata enters the 2014 season as the winningest manager in California League history with 684 victories over 10 seasons. The 59-year old has compiled a 466-374 record in six seasons as manager of the San Jose Giants - the most victories in franchise history. He directed San Jose to the 2001, 2005 and 2007 California League championships. Sakata also holds league managerial records in championships won (3), playoff appearances (8), playoff series won (10) and playoff games won (33).

"I am very pleased to be returning to San Jose and be able to wear the Giants uniform again," said Sakata. "Out of everything in my career, having a chance to come back to Municipal Stadium and this organization is one of the best things that has happened in my life. I am looking forward to coming back and working with the front office, seeing the fans and continuing the tradition of baseball."  

Sakata left the San Francisco organization after winning the 2007 California League championship with San Jose. He managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan for two seasons from 2008-09 before joining the Colorado Rockies in 2011. Sakata served as hitting coach of the Class-A Asheville Tourists in 2011 before spending the last two seasons as manager of the California League's Modesto Nuts. His 2012 Modesto team advanced to the Championship Series. Sakata also has previous California League managing experience with Modesto in 1989 and the Bakersfield Blaze in 2000. 2014 will mark Sakata's 10th season in the Giants organization.

"I am very excited to have Lenn Sakata back with the San Francisco Giants organization," said Shane Turner, San Francisco Giants Director of Player Development. "He possesses the three most important aspects of player development: tremendous knowledge of baseball, great teaching ability and an off the charts work ethic. I welcome him back with open arms."

Sakata played 11 years in the Major Leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers (1977-79), Baltimore Orioles (1980-85), Oakland Athletics (1986) and New York Yankees (1987). The former middle infielder hit .230 with 25 home runs and 109 RBI's over 565 games during his big league career. Sakata won a World Championship with the Orioles in 1983. He was originally a first round draft pick of the Brewers in 1975.

Couchee enters his second season as pitching coach for the San Jose Giants after a one-year stint in the same role with the Arizona Rookie League Giants. 2014 marks Couchee's third season in the Giants organization. Couchee previously spent nine years in the San Diego Padres organization, including eight seasons as their Minor League Pitching Coordinator from 2004-2011 and one year as pitching coach for Triple-A Portland in 2003. He also spent 10 seasons as the California/Anaheim Angels Minor League Pitching Coordinator from 1993-2002 after a five-year stint as a pitching coach in their organization. Couchee began his coaching career with Double-A Tulsa in the Texas farm system during the 1986-87 seasons.

Under Couchee's leadership, the 2013 San Jose pitching staff led the California League in ERA (3.66), strikeouts (1282), fewest home runs allowed (103) and was second in shutouts (8).

Couchee was originally drafted by San Diego in 1980 and pitched briefly in the major leagues with the Padres in 1983 (eight games, 0-1 record, 5.14 ERA).

Nava begins his seventh year in the San Francisco organization and second season as San Jose's hitting coach. Previously, Nava spent two seasons as Augusta's manager from 2011-12 after a three-year stint as the GreenJackets' hitting coach. Under Nava's direction, Augusta's 2011 team won the second half Southern Division title and earned a spot in the playoffs. His two-year managerial record was 139-138.

Nava was originally a 14th round selection by the Seattle Mariners in the 1990 draft. The former infielder played seven years professionally with the Mariners (1990-94), Boston Red Sox (1995) and Chicago Cubs (1997), advancing as high as the Triple-A level.

Havig begins his first season as San Jose's athletic trainer and his fifth year in the Giants organization. Prior to coming to San Jose, he served two seasons (2012-13) as athletic trainer for the Augusta GreenJackets after spending one year each in the same role with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (2011) and Arizona Rookie League Giants (2010). 

Lidge enters his first season with the San Jose Giants as strength and conditioning coach and second year in the organization. He joins San Jose after one season as strength and conditioning coach with the Arizona Rookie League Giants. 

Nathan Alleyne also returns for his fourth season as the San Jose Giants clubhouse manager.

2013 San Jose Giants manager Andy Skeels will serve as hitting coach for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies this year. Skeels, who spent four seasons as San Jose's manager (2009, 2011-2013), led the Giants to an 83-57 record and a North Division Championship last year.

First pitch for the San Jose Giants home opener will take place at 7:00 PM on Thursday, April 10 against the Bakersfield Blaze. San Jose's 2014 season begins on Thursday, April 3.