The Fort Wayne TinCaps, in conjunction with the San Diego Padres, announced their 2014 field staff Wednesday, and Michael Collins replaces Jose Valentine as manager. Collins is entering his third season as a manager in the Padres organization.
Pitching coach Burt Hooton, hitting coach Morgan Burkhart, and athletic trainer Ricky Huerta return to the staff. Dan Byrne is the new strength and conditioning coach.
The 29-year-old Collins is a native of Canberra, Australia, and last year managed the Padres rookie-level affiliate in the Arizona League. He led San Diego's Dominican Summer League affiliate in 2012. Collins began his 10-year Minor League Baseball career in 2001 as a 16-year-old in the Angels system, making his debut with the franchise's Arizona League club. Collins moved up to the Midwest League in 2004, playing for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. In 2005, again with Cedar Rapids, he finished third in the league with a .320 batting average.
Collins, a catcher, signed with the San Diego organization in 2009 after eight years with the Angels. He played for San Diego's Triple-A, Double-A, Advanced-A, and Arizona League teams in 2010. For the past two winters, Collins has been the manager of the Canberra Cavalry of the Australian Baseball League. Under his guidance, Canberra won the Claxton Shield, the championship trophy of the ABL. Collins also played for the Cavalry from 2010-2012, and during the 2010-2011 season he hit .360 and was the ABL's batting champion.
Hooton, 63, returns for his second season in Fort Wayne. Burkhart also returns for a second season with the TinCaps. Huerta begins his fifth season in the Padres organization. The 27-year-old Los Angeles native will work with the TinCaps for a second straight season after having worked previously with the rookie-level Arizona League Padres.
Byrne enters his first season with Fort Wayne. He replaces Pat Trainor, who has been assigned to San Diego's Advanced-A Affiliate, the Lake Elsinore Storm, as the strength and conditioning coach.