The Dunedin Blue Jays have announced their on-field coaching staff for the 2018 season. Casey Candaele will manage the Blue Jays in 2018, joining the organization from the Seattle Mariners where he served as the team's First Base Coach during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Donnie Murphy will serve as the team's Hitting Coach, moving up from the same position with the Lansing Lugnuts. Pitching Coach Mark Riggins will return for his second year in Dunedin as will Coach Michel Abreu. Kyle Edlhuber will serve as the team's strength coach, joining Dunedin from the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays, and Dan Leja will move up from the Vancouver Canadians to be Dunedin's Athletic Trainer.
2018 is Casey Candaele's first season managing an affiliated baseball team. As a player, Candaele played 18 seasons in professional baseball, including nine in the Major Leagues with the Montreal Expos, Houston Astros, and Cleveland Indians. He finished 4th in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 1987, hitting .272 in 138 games in his first full season. During his career, he was known as a hard-nosed versatile player who appeared at every defensive position besides catcher and pitcher in the Major Leagues. He retired as a player in 2000 after over 2,100 games in the Majors and Minors. For the past two seasons, he has been the Seattle Mariners' First Base Coach and worked previously in the Texas Rangers' system as a Field Coordinator and Infield and Base Running Coach.
Candaele takes the place of 2017 manager John Schneider. Schneider helped lead Dunedin to its first league championship in 2017 and will continue to coach in the Blue Jays system with AA-New Hampshire in 2018.
Donnie Murphy joins Dunedin as the team's Hitting Coach in 2018. Like Candaele, Murphy played nine seasons in the Major Leagues, appearing with the Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, Florida Marlins, Chicago Cubs, and Texas Rangers between 2004 and 2014. Murphy retired as a player in 2015 and served as the Hitting Coach of the Lansing Lugnuts during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. In 2017, Murphy guided Lansing hitters to a first place finish in the Midwest League in on-base percentage (.351) and the second-best ranking in average (.268), runs (685), and On-Base Plus Slugging (.742).
Pitching Coach Mark Riggins returns to Dunedin in 2018 for his second season with the team. A former Florida State League All-Star as a player, Riggins has coached in the Minors and Majors since 1984. He served as a Major League Pitching Coach three times with the Cardinals in 1995, the Cubs in 2011, and the Reds in 2016. In addition to his time in the Major Leagues, he served as a Minor League Pitching Coordinator for over two decades of his career.
Coach Michel Abreu returns for his second season in the Dunedin dugout following a 13-year playing career in the minor leagues and foreign leagues. An accomplished hitter, Abreu won the 2006 Eastern League (AA) batting championship, the 2009 Puerto Rican League MVP, the 2012 Mexican League batting title, and the 2013 Japanese Pacific League home run crown.
2018 will be Kyle Edlhuber's fourth season coaching a Blue Jays affiliate. Edlhuber played collegiate baseball at the Wisconsin Lutheran College and graduated with undergraduate degrees in Kinesiology and Exercise Science and Business Administration. He received his Master's from the University of Wisconsin-La Cross in 2015 in Human Performance. A former collegiate coach, he has served as Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Blue Jays Gulf Coast League Affiliate since 2015.
Trainer Dan Leja joins Dunedin in 2018 from the Vancouver Canadians where he served as Athletic Trainer for the past two seasons. Prior to his work in the Blue Jays system, Leja worked for the Tampa Bay Rays (2015) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2013). He holds a Bachelor's Degree from Grand Valley State University and a Master's from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
The Blue Jays open the 2018 on the road against the Clearwater Threshers on Thursday, April 5th. Their first home game is Saturday, April 7th against Clearwater at Dunedin Stadium.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.