Wilmington, DE -- The Kansas City Royals announced on Wednesday that Darryl Kennedy will return as manager of the Wilmington Blue Rocks in 2018. Also coming back are former Major Leaguers Abraham Nunez as hitting coach and Chris Widger as bench coach, athletic trainer James Stone and strength and conditioning coach Will Gilmore. The only new addition to the staff is pitching coach and long-time Big Leaguer Doug Henry.
Kennedy is back in Wilmington for his third stint skippering the Blue Rocks. He previously managed at Frawley Stadium in 2008 and 2014. Kennedy has spent the last three seasons in charge of the Royals' Arizona League team in Surprise.
"I'm thrilled to be back with the Blue Rocks," Kennedy said. "I'm really looking forward to the quality of baseball in the Carolina League; it's a league I've always enjoyed. But most of all I'm just excited to get back in front of the fans in Wilmington. They've always treated myself and our players well and they have a passion for the game."
Kennedy noted that his previous experience will only aide his efforts in 2018.
"When I came back here in 2014 I was so much more prepared than the first time," Kennedy recalled. "I had a better feel for the league. Now, coming back for a third time, I know exactly what to expect. I think that will be a huge benefit for me and for our team."
It certainly will not hurt to have a coaching staff with just under four decades of Major League playing and coaching experience.
The 2018 campaign will be the fourth in Wilmington for Nunez and his eighth overall as a coach. He helped lead the Blue Rocks to their first Mills Cup Championship Series appearance in over a decade in 2015. The 41-year-old Dominican Republic native played in parts of 12 seasons as a Major Leaguer, including a two-year stint just up I-95 from Frawley Stadium with the Phillies. His best year came in 2005, when he batted .285 in 139 regular season games, and helped lead the Cardinals to the National League Championship Series.
Widger is in his third season on the Blue Rocks staff. He spent 10 years playing Major League baseball for Seattle, Montreal, St. Louis, Baltimore, the Yankees and the White Sox.
Henry returns to Minor League Baseball after spending the last five years on Ned Yost's staff in Kansas City as the Royals' bullpen coach. Prior to that he was the Triple-A Omaha Stormchasers' pitching coach for three seasons and the Royals Pitching Coordinator for one year. Henry joined the organization in 2008. As a player he pitched 11 seasons in the majors with Kansas City, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Houston and the Mets.
Stone is back for his seventh season in Wilmington. He was named the Carolina League Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2015. Stone has been with the Royals organization since 2010, and was also the New York-Penn League Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2006 (while with the Jamestown Jammers of the then Florida Marlins). Gilmore is in his second campaign with the Rocks after spending 2016 with the Low-A Lexington Legends. He joined the Royals organization in 2015.
"This is a tremendous coaching staff we have in place," Kennedy said. "I've been around all of these guys and they all bring a great deal of experience and expertise to the table. We've got guys with extensive Big League time and who know how to teach the game."
The season is still almost three months away, but Kennedy wishes it would start tomorrow.
"I've already painted the house twice," laughed the skipper. "I love spending time with the family, but this is the first time I haven't coached winter ball in years, so I'm running out of chores to do and I'm itching to get back on the field."
Wilmington opens its season on Thursday, April 5 at Potomac and starts its home slate at Frawley Stadium on Thursday, April 12 versus the Lynchburg Hillcats. Season seats, mini plans and group packages for the upcoming campaign are on sale now. For more information, please see the team's website at BlueRocks.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.