Savannah, GA - In conjunction with the New York Mets, the Savannah Sand Gnats are pleased to announce their field staff for the 2011 baseball season, led by new manager Ryan Ellis.
Ellis, who has served as the Savannah hitting coach for the last two seasons, will be joined by Major League veterans Glenn Abbott
(Pitching Coach) and Benny Distefano
(Hitting Coach). Jose Carreno
returns to the Gnats as the team's First Base Coach and Catching Instructor.
"I'm excited for the opportunity to manage in Savannah," Ellis said from Mets Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, FL. "I'm excited about being in Savannah for my third year. We've had some good years in the past in terms of developing guys, and I'm looking forward to helping out."
"Ellie is the perfect guy to manage this club," said Gnats Team President John Katz. "His fiery enthusiasm and passion for the game is evident from the moment you meet him, and having big league veterans like Abby [Glenn Abbott] and Benny on the staff is just icing on the cake."
Ellis has worked throughout the Mets minor league system and will take the reins as a manager for the first time with Savannah in 2011. He has served as the hitting coach for Kingsport (R) of the Appalachian League in 2008 and as the first base coach for Binghamton (AA) of the Eastern League in 2007. Ellis began the Mets as a coach for Norfolk (AAA) in the International League during the 2006 season. Ellis finished his professional playing career and began his coaching career with the Washington (PA) Wild Things of the Independent Frontier League. Ellis played for the Wild Things from 2002-2004 and coached for the team from 2003-2005. He served as the team's hitting and infield coach in 2003 and 2004, while adding third base coach to those responsibilities for the 2005 season.
The Montreal Expos drafted Ellis in the 28th round in 2000 out of Point Park College. Ellis played two seasons for Vermont (SSA) in the New York Penn League in 2000 and 2001. In 2001, in a game against Williamsport, Ellis played all nine positions on the field. In order, he played first base, second base, shortstop, third base, left field, center field, pitcher, right field and concluded the game at catcher.
Major League veteran Glenn Abbott will begin his 20th year as a pitching coach and his first with the Mets in 2011. Abbott was most recently the pitching coach with for San Antonio (AA) of the Texas League, a San Diego Padres affiliate. Abbott has coached in triple-A for six years and double-A for nine. Originally drafted by the Oakland A's in the 8th round of the 1969 amateur draft, Abbott pitched in the Major Leagues for 11 seasons, compiling a 62-83 record and a 4.39 ERA from 1973 through 1984. Abbott was a part of the final two A's teams that won three straight World Series from 1972 to 1974. In Abbott's rookie year, 1973, Oakland beat the New York Mets 4-3.
Abbott served as the Pitching Coach for the Modesto A's (Advanced Class-A) from 2000 - 2002, during which Katz was the General Manager of the Modesto club. "It feels like we're putting the band back together," said Katz. "Abby will be a great addition to Ryan's coaching staff, and I am excited that he and Patti [Abbott's wife] will be spending their summer here in the Hostess City."
Abbott also holds two unique places in baseball history. On September 28, 1975, pitching for the A's, Abbott pitched one inning in the first four-pitcher no-hitter in Major League history. Abbott retired the side in order in the sixth inning against the California Angels in relief of Vida Blue. Paul Linblad relieved Abott and Rollie Fingers finished the game. In November 1976, Abbott was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the Major League Baseball expansion draft. Abott played with Seattle longer than any other player on their original 1977 Opening Day roster.
Hitting Coach Benny Distefano, also a big league veteran, enters his first season with the Gnats and his second with the Mets after serving as the Hitting Coach for the Brooklyn Cyclones (SSA) of the New York-Penn League in 2010. Distefano also owns a special place in baseball history as the last left-handed hitting catcher to play in the major leagues. Distefano coached in the Detroit Tigers organization for four years, serving as the hitting coach for the West Michigan Whitecaps (A) of the Midwest League in from 2007-2009 and the Gulf Coast League Tigers in 2006. Distefano played professionally for 12 years, including five seasons in the major leagues with the Pirates and the Astros. As a member of the Pirates, he joined a small fraternity of players to triple in their first major league at-bat when he accomplished the feat on May 18, 1984 against Pete Falcone of the Astros. Distefano also helped deny the Mets' the first no-hitter in team history. As a member of the Houston Astros, he broke up David Cone's no-hit bid with an infield single in the top of the eighth inning on April 28, 1992.
Jose Carreno, who will serve as the Gnats' catching instructor and first base coach, enters his fourth season with the Mets organization. Carreno, who worked for St. Lucie (advanced-A) of the Florida State League in 2010, was a member of the Gnats coaching staff in 2008 and 2009. Carreno finished his professional playing career with the Mid-Missouri Mavericks of the Independent Frontier League in 2003. He originally signed as a non-drafted free agent with the Montreal Expos in 1996, playing in the organization until 2002. He made it as high as double-A Harrisburg in 2001 and 2002.
Athletic Trainer Tom Truedson enters his third season with the Mets organization and his first in Savannah while Strength and Conditioning Coach Kyle Huckins enters his second year with the Mets and his second with Savannah.
ABOUT THE SAVANNAH SAND GNATS
The Savannah Sand Gnats, the Class-A affiliate of the New York Mets, is a professional minor league baseball team and a member of the South Atlantic League. Savannah plays its home games at Historic Grayson Stadium in Savannah, Georgia, just minutes from downtown Savannah. Historic Grayson Stadium is situated within Savannah's Daffin Park, creating a unique atmosphere and a "Park within a Park" setting.
OPENING NIGHT, 2011
The Savannah Sand Gnats Opening Night is Friday, April 15th, against the Greenville Drive, SAL affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The first 5,000 fans on Opening Weekend will receive a Magnet Schedule Giveaway presented by the US Coast Guard. Please call (912) 351-9150 for ticket information.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.