The Oakland A's today announced that Greg Sparks will serve as the Sacramento River Cats hitting coach for the 2012 season. Todd Steverson, who served as Sacramento's hitting coach in 2011, takes over Sparks' previous role as minor league roving hitting instructor.
Darren Bush returns to manage Sacramento for the second consecutive season. In 2011, his first season with the River Cats, Bush guided Sacramento to an 88-56 record and the team's fifth consecutive Pacific Coast League South Division title. His 2012 staff will consist of pitching coach Scott Emerson, Sparks and trainer Brad LaRosa.
Sparks spent the last eight seasons as the A's minor league roving hitting instructor. He previously served as a manager in the A's minor league system for six years, compiling a 359-352-1 record during that span. He managed in Double-A Midland (2003), Single-A Modesto (2000-02) and Single-A Southern Oregon of the Northwest League (1998-99). He earned co-manager of the year honors in 1999 while with Southern Oregon.
"I'm excited to get back on the field full time," Sparks said. "I always looked forward to my trips to Sacramento as a roving instructor. It's just an outstanding facility with great fans."
"I know the Oakland A's system. I know every hitter we have in the organization. I'm really excited to be with the guys, spend the summer with them and help them get to the big leagues."
Originally a fifth-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 1984, the Mesa Community College product's playing career spanned 12 seasons and took him to 16 different cities in nine Minor league organizations. His only two stops in the Triple-A level came in 1991 and 1992, when he played 55 games for Buffalo and 23 games for Toledo, respectively. Sparks makes his offseason home in Phoenix, Ariz. Sparks and Emerson attended the same Phoenix high school: Shadow Mountain High.
In other organizational changes, the A's shuffled three minor league pitching coaches, with John Wasdin moving to Single-A Burlington, Ariel Prieto switching to Single-A Vermont and Jimmy Escalante now coaching with the A's affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League. In addition, trainers Travis Tims and Brian Thorson switch affiliations, with Tims relocating to Burlington and Thorson replacing him in Vermont.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.