WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (DECEMBER 20, 2010)
- Longtime White Sox minor leaguer Julio Vinas will manage the Winston-Salem Dash for the 2011 season, the team announced today. He will be joined on the coaching staff by new hitting coach Gary Ward and Bobby Thigpen, who returns as the team's pitching coach.
Vinas rejoins the White Sox organization after spending seven seasons as a player in the Chicago system. The 37-year-old was originally drafted by Chicago in the 33rd round of the 1991 draft and stayed with the organization through the 1997 season. Vinas also played in the minor leagues for the Orioles, Red Sox, and Indians organizations.
In 11 minor league seasons as a player, Vinas hit .264 with 84 home runs and 504 runs batted in. Primarily a catcher, Vinas also spent significant time playing first base. After his playing career ended, Vinas coached in the Orioles minor league system, spending five seasons as the organization's hitting coordinator.
Ward brings a wealth of major league experience as a player and coach to the Dash. He played 12 seasons in the majors with the Twins, Rangers, Yankees, and Tigers. In 1,287 career games, the former outfielder hit .276 with 130 home runs, 196 doubles, and 597 runs batted in. Ward was a two-time All-Star, first with Minnesota in 1983, and again with Texas in 1985. He had his finest season in 1982 for the Twins, batting .289 with 28 home runs and 91 RBI. The 57-year-old spent last season as the hitting coach for AAA Charlotte. He also served as the Chicago White Sox hitting coach from 2001-03.
Ward is the father of former major leaguer Daryle Ward, who played in the big leagues from 1998 to 2008 with the Astros, Dodgers, Pirates, Nationals, Braves, and Cubs. Daryle spent time in the White Sox system playing for Charlotte in 2009 while his father was the team's hitting coach and was recently re-signed by the White Sox.
Thigpen returns for his third season as Winston-Salem's pitching coach. A former fourth-round draft pick by the White Sox in 1985, Thigpen pitched nine major league seasons, including eight with Chicago. He posted a career record of 31-36 with a 3.43 ERA and holds the White Sox' career saves record with 201. He set a major league record for saves in one season with 57 in 1990, a mark that stood until Francisco Rodriguez saved 62 games in 2008. Thigpen, 47, was an All-Star in 1990 and won the Rolaids Relief Man Award that season; he also finished fourth in Cy Young voting and fifth in the voting for Most Valuable Player.
The Dash also announced its training staff today. Cory Barton will begin his first season as the team's athletic trainer. Barton replaces Josh Fallin, who had spent the previous ten seasons as Winston-Salem's trainer. Fallin will serve as the trainer for AA Birmingham in the 2011 season. Adam Tischler will return to the Dash as the team's strength and conditioning coach.
Baseball returns to BB&T Ballpark on March 30 when the Dash takes on the Chicago White Sox in an exhibition game. Fans may still purchase ticket plans that give them the opportunity to buy tickets to the White Sox game. Seven-game plans start at just $63 per seat and include tickets to seven of the best games in the 2011 regular season. Contact the Dash at 336-714-2287 for more information on how to purchase tickets.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.