FORMER MAJOR LEAGUERS JOIN OAKS COACHING STAFF

By MLB.com | January 22, 2007 2:31 PM

VISALIA, CA - The Visalia Oaks, in conjunction with the Arizona Diamondbacks, announced the rest of the coaching staff to join new manager Hector De La Cruz for the 2007 baseball season.

De La Cruz guided Missoula to the Pioneer League Championship in 2006. Following a 42-36 regular season, the Osprey went 4-0 in the playoffs, outscoring their opponents, first Billings and then Idaho Falls a combined 27-8. De La Cruz pointed out that "it was a very satisfying end," to a good few years in Missoula. In his two years managing Missoula, he posted an even 76-76 record. De La Cruz played professionally for seven years in the Toronto Blue Jays organization as a third baseman and outfielder. He also played professionally in Korea, Taiwan and Japan before beginning his coaching career in 2001 as a hitting coach. Hector resides in the Dominican Republic.

Jeff Pico, the Oaks new pitching coach, enters his 13th season as a coach and fifth in the Diamondbacks' organization. In 2004, he led the South Bend Silverhawks pitching staff to an organization best ERA of 3.81. Prior to joining the D'backs, Jeff served as the pitching coach for the Chico Heat of the Western League (Independent). Under Jeff's direction, the Heat led the league in team ERA for five consecutive seasons from 1998-2002. Jeff played professionally for 13 seasons, including three seasons with the Chicago Cubs. He compiled a 13-12 major league record and became the first Cubs pitcher in 79 years to throw a complete game shutout in his Major League Debut, shutting out the Cincinnati Reds on May 31, 1988. His best season came in 1989 when he posted a 3-1 record with a 3.77 ERA. Jeff currently resides in Marana, Arizona.

Jay Gainer, a native of Panama City, Florida, takes the helm as the Oaks new hitting coach. Gainer is entering his fifth season in the D'backs organization and comes to the Oaks after managing the Yakima Bears the last two years. Prior to becoming manager in Yakima, Jay served as the team's hitting coach. In that capacity, he developed some great young talent such as the 2003 Northwest League MVP Conor Jackson. Jay's own professional career spanned across 12 years. He played 23 games for the Colorado Rockies in their inaugural season in 1993. Jay did not disappoint in his debut sending the first pitch he saw into the seats for a homerun at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. Following his stint with the Rockies, Jay played in Mexico from 1998-2001. Jay currently resides in Ellsburg, Virginia.

James Ready joins the D'backs organization as the Oaks new athletic trainer after receiving his degree from LSU. Brian Melton, also in his first year with the D'backs organization, will assist Rob and work with the players on strength and conditioning.

Recreation Park Renovation

The Oaks and the City of Visalia will soon be breaking ground on the first phase of a $5 million renovation project to Recreation Park. Please visit www.oaksbaseball.com for all of the latest plans.

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2007 Tickets

The Oaks are now selling 2007 Season Seats and 5, 10 and 20 game Miniplans, starting at just $35. Reserve your season seat with a just a $50 deposit! For more Information, please call (559) 625-0480 or email info@oaksbaseball.com.

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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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