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Andy Schatzley Named Trash Pandas' Second Manager

Coaches Kenny Hook, Michael Wuertz return to Rocket City
February 25, 2022

The Rocket City Trash Pandas, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Angels, today announced the on-field coaching staff for the 2022 season, led by new Manager Andy Schatzley. “I think the Trash Pandas are the best-run affiliate in baseball, and I am honored and beyond excited to get there and

The Rocket City Trash Pandas, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Angels, today announced the on-field coaching staff for the 2022 season, led by new Manager Andy Schatzley.

“I think the Trash Pandas are the best-run affiliate in baseball, and I am honored and beyond excited to get there and get started,” Schatzley said.

Back for their second season with the Trash Pandas will be Hitting Coach Kenny Hook and Pitching Coach Michael Wuertz. Making their Rocket City debuts with Schatzley will be Coach Dann Bilardello, Strength and Conditioning Coach Henry Aleck, and Athletic Trainer Will Whitehead.

“Kenny, Michael and I have worked in spring training and instructional leagues together and I love them,” Schatzley said. “And then when you throw Dann into that mix, that makes it even better for us as a group.”

The second manager in Trash Pandas history, Schatzley enters his third season in the Angels organization after guiding High-A Tri-City in 2021. In his role with the Dust Devils, Schatzley managed future Trash Pandas standouts such as infielder Brendon Davis, closer Kolton Ingram, as well as starters Cristopher Molina, Ryan Smith and Davis Daniel. In 2020, Schatzley was tabbed to manage the Rookie-Level Orem Owlz in his first professional season before the minor league season was cancelled.

Prior to joining the Angels, Schatzley spent eight seasons as an assistant coach at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas from 2011-19. In that role, he acted as the Associate Head Coach and recruiting coordinator while his on-field titles included hitting coach, infield instructor, and third base coach. In 2019, he helped guide the Bisons to a 34-21 record, the best record during his tenure at Harding.

In 2013, he was the head coach of the Outer Banks Daredevils of the Coastal Plain League, a summer wood bat league for collegiate players. He also served as head coach of the El Dorado Broncos of the Jayhawk League from 2009-10.

Schatzley, 37, came to Harding from Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas where he worked as an assistant in 2011. During the 2009-10 seasons, he was a Graduate Assistant at Lubbock Christian University. He played collegiately at Pratt Community College (2004-06) in Pratt, Kansas and Lyon College (2006-08) in Batesville, Arkansas. He earned a master’s degree at Lubbock Christian University in organizational leadership in 2010.

Kenny Hook returns to the Trash Pandas following a successful 2021 season. Javier Sanchez/Rocket City Trash Pandas

Hitting Coach Kenny Hook is back in 2022 after directing a powerful Rocket City offense in 2021 that launched a Double-A South best 152 home runs, with six players reaching double digits. Hook enters his third season with the Angels after spending the previous six in the Texas Rangers system, including a stint as manager of Rookie-Level Spokane. Hook, 46, played independently for parts of five seasons from 1997-2002.

Pitching Coach Michael Wuertz, 43, also returns to Rocket City in 2022 after leading a pitching staff that finished second in Double-A South with 1,112 strikeouts in 2021. Under the direction of Wuertz, 10 former Trash Pandas pitchers climbed the ladder and made their MLB debut for the Angels last season. Before joining Rocket City in 2021, Wuertz spent three of the previous four seasons played with High-A Inland Empire, where he was scheduled to be the pitching coach in 2020. He spent the 2018 season with Rookie-Level Orem.

Pitching Coach Michael Wuertz brings a wealth of MLB experience to the Rocket City coaching staff. Javier Sanchez/Rocket City Trash Pandas

As a player, he pitched for eight seasons between the Chicago Cubs (2004-08) and Oakland A’s (2009-11), posting a 21-11 record and 11 saves with 444 strikeouts over 414.1 career innings. In 2009, he led all American League relievers with a career-high 102 strikeouts, becoming the third A’s reliever after Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers and Dennis Eckersley to fan 100 in a season.

Coach Dann Bilardello, 62, brings a wealth of playing and coaching experience to his first season in the Angels organization. Playing primarily as a catcher from 1978-94, Bilardello hit .204 with 18 home runs, 91 RBI, and 79 runs scored in 382 MLB games over eight seasons between the Cincinnati Reds (1983-85), Montreal Expos (1986), Pittsburgh Pirates (1989-90), and San Diego Padres (1991-92). During his career, Bilardello was a teammate of Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Andre Dawson, and Tony Gwynn. He was also a first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1978.

Dann Bilardello enters his first season in the Angels organization. Joshua Tjiong/MiLB

After his playing career, Bilardello earned a Pioneer League Championship in his managerial debut for the Great Falls Dodgers in 2002. He stayed in the Dodgers system from 2002-04 before spending a season in the Red Sox organization in 2005. From 2006-09, he was a minor league catching instructor in the Cardinals organization before moving back to the dugout in 2010. He remained in the Cardinals system through 2020, managing Rookie-Level Batavia (2010-12), Low-A Peoria (2013), High-A Palm Beach (2014, 2017-20), and Double-A Springfield (2015-16). Bilardello won a Florida State League Championship for Palm Beach in 2017.

Making the jump to Rocket City from Tri-City with Schatzley is Strength and Conditioning Coach Henry Aleck. He previously spent time in the Philadelphia Phillies organization with High-A Lakewood in 2018. Prior to that, he worked at the University of Texas at Austin as a Strength and Conditioning Coach in the Longhorns athletic department. He earned his master’s degree in applied exercise science at Concordia University and an undergraduate degree from Texas Christian University.

Athletic Trainer Will Whitehead heads to the Trash Pandas after spending 2021 with High-A Tri-City in his first season in the Angels organization. He previously spent 11 years in the Colorado Rockies system. Before starting his professional baseball career, Whitehead worked as an Athletic Trainer for both the Winter X Games and the Texas Tech University baseball team. He graduated from Texas Tech University Heath Sciences Center with a master’s degree in athletic training after earning his undergraduate degree from Stephen F. Austin State University.

Rounding out the Trash Pandas coaching staff will be Game Planning Strategist Ryan Santos and Video Assistant Andrew Hansford.

The 2022 Trash Pandas season is not impacted by the current MLB lockout. The season begins on Friday, April 8 at Birmingham before the home opener at Toyota Field on Tuesday, April 12 against Pensacola. Single-game tickets go on-sale on Saturday, February 26.