(APPLEBEE'S PARK, Lexington, Ky.) Pitching coach Rick Aponte is a late addition to the Lexington Legends' field staff for 2010, which will be led by new manager Rodney Linares.
Aponte, a veteran of more than 30 years in the Houston Astros organization and a former coach with the Washington Nationals, was named Lexington pitching coach January 6 by the Astros, the parent club of the Legends. The Astros announced in November that Rodney Linares would be the Lexington manager for 2010, and Stubby Clapp would serve as hitting coach.
Aponte replaces Travis Driskill, who had served as the Legends pitching coach in 2009. Driskill had been assigned to return to Lexington, but was promoted to the Astros double-A affiliate in Corpus Christi, Texas, which had an opening after pitching coach Stan Boroski was hired in December by the Tampa Bay Rays for their major league staff.
Aponte was the pitching coach for the Gulf Coast League Astros in 2009. He was with the Nationals as their bullpen coach in 2007 and 2008.
"It will be a lot of fun to have a guy with big league and lifelong baseball experiences like Rick as part of our organization," said Legends General Manager Andy Shea.
Aponte, a native of the Dominican Republic, made his professional debut as a pitcher in the Houston organization in 1976. He reached the triple-A level with Charleston, West Virginia in 1977 and with Tucson in 1980 and 1981. He began his coaching career in the Astros' organization later in 1981. Aponte managed Houston's team in the Rookie Dominican Summer League from 1993 through 1999.
For the last three seasons, Linares served as manager at Greeneville (Tenn.), the Astros' affiliate in the rookie Appalachian League.
Linares was Lexington's hitting coach in 2005 and 2006. Before joining the Legends for the 2005 season, he had served six seasons as a hitting coach and scout in the Astros' Dominican Republic operations.
Linares played three seasons of professional baseball. He was an infielder in the Detroit organization in 1997 and part of 1998, and in the Houston organization from 1998-99.
Clapp was the Legends hitting coach in 2008. He held that position for Greeneville in 2007 and 2009. Clapp played professionally from 1997-2005, and reached the majors in 2001 with St. Louis. A native of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Clapp played for Canada in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. He also played for Canada in the 1999 PanAm Games and in the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2009.
"We're unbelievably happy to have Rodney and Stubby back in the Legends clubhouse," said Legends General Manager Andy Shea. "They will add a lot of excitement and will be integral parts in our 10th anniversary celebration year."
The Legends will open their 10th season April 8 in Charleston, S. C. The home opener is set for Friday, April 16 at Applebee's Park against the Greenville Drive, an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.