BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- The Big Red Machine is rumbling west once more! The Cincinnati Reds have announced that Ken Griffey, Sr. will be returning to helm the Bakersfield Blaze for a third time in 2013. He will be joined by pitching coach Rigo Beltran, who will also be marking his third stint with the Blaze, and hitting coach Ray Martinez, a Bakersfield newcomer.
Ken Griffey Sr., a star member of the Cincinnati Reds Big Red Machine, enjoyed a Major League career that spanned nearly 20 years. He won two World Series rings, was named the MVP of the 1980 MLB All-Star Game, and made baseball history when he and his son, Ken Griffey, Jr., hit back-to-back home runs with the Seattle Mariners in 1990.
Griffey Sr. has worked as a bench coach with the Cincinnati Reds and was the hitting coach for Cincinnati's Midwest League affiliate, the Dayton Dragons, before being named manager of the Blaze before the 2011 season. In two seasons in the California League, Griffey has a record of 138-142. In 2012, he managed the Bakersfield Blaze to the first-half championship, the first time the team had done so in twenty years.
"My time in Bakersfield the last two seasons has been outstanding," Griffey noted. "I love working with the young ballplayers on the team, teaching them how to be professionals. And the new owners and front office have done a great job bringing fans into the park. And with the new park coming in 2014, it's all very exciting. I can't wait for year three. We'll go get a championship this time."
Rigo Beltran spent the last two seasons as the pitching coach for the Bakersfield Blaze, and has been a coach in the Reds system for seven seasons. Born in Tijuana, Mexico, Beltran attended high school in San Diego, Calif., before going to the University of Wyoming. He was selected in the 1991 free-agent draft by the St. Louis Cardinals and spent 16 seasons in baseball. He played parts of five seasons in the Major Leagues, pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals (1997), New York Mets (1998-99), Colorado Rockies (1999-2000) and Montreal Expos.
Ray Martinez joins the Blaze staff in the position occupied by Eli Marrero in 2012. He will be entering his third season as a coach, and his second as a hitting coach. Martinez was the hitting coach for the Billings Mustangs, the Reds' Rookie-level affiliate, in 2012. He was drafted by the California Angels in 1987, and spent 23 seasons playing professionally for the Florida, Cleveland, Montreal, New York Mets, Pittsburgh and San Diego organizations.
The 2013 regular season home schedule begins April 11 against the Stockton Ports and will feature the first Thirsty Thursday of the year.
Season tickets and Miniplans are available at a discount by calling 661-716-4487.
Fans can continue to follow the Blaze via the team homepage, BakersfieldBlaze.com, or on the team's Facebook page and via twitter, @BakoBlaze to stay up to date on all the progress.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.