Rodriguez takes reins as Springfield skipper

Coming off title in State College, longtime coach moves to Double-A

Johnny Rodriguez led State College to a New York-Penn League championship in the 2016 season.

By Springfield Cardinals | November 30, 2016 7:22 PM ET

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The St. Louis Cardinals have announced that Johnny Rodriguez has been named the new manager of the Springfield Cardinals for the 2017 season, becoming the fifth skipper in Springfield history. Details for an introductory event with Johnny Rodriguez will be announced at a later date.

Joining Rodriguez this season will be returning pitching coach Jason Simontacchi, new hitting coach Jobel Jimenez and new athletic trainer Matt Corvo.

Rodriguez takes over for Dann Bilardello, who managed Springfield the last two seasons and guided the Cardinals to the 2016 first-half North Division championship last year. Bilardello will return to his home state of Florida to lead the Palm Beach Cardinals (Class A Advanced) in 2017.

Rodriguez, 60, enters his eighth season in the Cardinals organization, most recently having led the State College Spikes (Class A Short Season) to the 2016 New York-Penn League Championship. Rodriguez made his Spikes debut in 2015 after managerial stints with Johnson City (Rookie) in 2014, Palm Beach in 2012-13 and Quad Cities (Class A) in 2010-11. Rodriguez has led his teams to three league championships through seven seasons as a manager within the Cardinals system.

Rodriguez's career in professional baseball spans more than 30 years, starting out in the New York Yankees organization for 17 years before moving to the Montrael Expos as a hitting coach in 2000-01. Rodriguez then joined the Florida Marlins system from 2002-08, serving as both a manager and a hitting coach. His son, Sean, is a middle infielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates and has been in the Major Leagues since making his debut in 2008 with the Los Angeles Angels. Rodriguez makes his home in Miami, Florida.

"We are very excited to welcome Johnny into the Springfield family and the line of excellent managers that have come through Hammons Field," said Springfield Cardinals Vice President / General Manager Matt Gifford. "With more than three decades in professional baseball, Johnny really brings invaluable experience to the ballpark and we know that our fans will enjoy interacting with him at Hammons Field. We are also thrilled to have Jason back as our pitching coach and can't wait to welcome Jobel as our new hitting coach and Matt as our new athletic trainer, all of whom will combine with Johnny to continue to do a tremendous job of developing the future of Cardinals baseball both on and off the field. At the same time, we would to thank Dann Bilardello for two great seasons as our manager, during which he was so impactful with our fans and throughout our community. We wish Dann all the best and know he will do a fantastic job in Palm Beach."

Simontacchi, 43, embarks on his third season as the Springfield pitching coach and fifth as a coach within the Cardinals organization, helping guide Springfield to the 2016 first-half North Division championship and their first postseason appearance since 2012. In his first coaching campaign in 2013, Simontacchi's Peoria pitching staff posted the second-lowest ERA in the Midwest League at 3.54, while also finishing second with 1,112 strikeouts, second with 398 walks allowed and third with only 71 home runs surrendered.

The former St. Louis Cardinal toed the rubber at Busch Stadium from 2002-04, before concluding his playing days with the Washington Nationals in 2007. Simontacchi made his Major League debut with the Cardinals on May 4, 2002, dealing seven innings to help lead the Cards to a 3-2 win against the Atlanta Braves. He went on to win his first five decisions, earning the June National League Rookie Pitcher of the Month honors. Simontacchi was named the Cardinals Rookie Pitcher of the Year by the St. Louis Chapter of the BBWAA in 2002, while also receiving one third place vote for the National League Rookie of the Year. Through 53 Major League starts spanning 355.2 total innings, he posted a career record of 26-17. Simontacchi resides in St. Louis with his wife, Paula, and two sons, Bradley and Nathan.

Jimenez, 38, will begin his first season as Springfield's hitting coach and his 11th campaign within the Cardinals system, spending the last three seasons as the hitting coach in Peoria. Under Jimenez's guidance, the Peoria Chiefs not only reached the Midwest League playoffs each of the last two years, but also tied for the league lead with a .266 team batting average in 2016 and tied for second with 157 stolen bases in 2015.

Jimenez began his career with St. Louis as the hitting coach for the Venezuela Summer League Cardinals (Rookie) from 2007-09, and served in the same capacity for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals (Rookie) in 2013. Prior to joining the Cardinals, Jimenez worked from 2001-06 for the Boston Red Sox as a scout, outfield instructor and hitting coach in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. A Minor League outfielder in the Los Angeles Dodgers system for two seasons (1993-94), Jimenez moved to the scouting and coaching ranks as an outfield instructor for the Dodgers from 1994-98, before coaching in the Marlins system from 1999-2000.

Corvo enters his first season as the Springfield Athletic Trainer and his first campaign within the Cardinals system. He spent each of the last three years within the Seattle Mariners organization as the athletic trainer for the Clinton Lumber Kings (Class A) in 2015-16 and the Pulaski Mariners (Rookie) in 2014.

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