Updated: Former Red Sox catcher, coach Gary Allenson to manage Fisher Cats
Former Red Sox catcher Gary Allenson, who played seven seasons in the majors and was a teammate of Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice and Carl Yastrzemski, has been named manager of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Allenson becomes the seventh manager in team history, replacing Sal Fasano, who will serve as Toronto's new minor-league catching coordinator.
Former major-league All-Star and ex-Red Sox hitting coach Richie Hebner has been hired as the Fisher Cats hitting coach, and Tom Signore returns as pitching coach for the Blue Jays Double-A affiliate, preparing for its 10th season in the Eastern League.
Allenson, 57, has spent most of his managing career in the minors with Baltimore. In 2011, he notched his 1,000th career win while managing the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. The California native began his coaching career in the Yankees' farm system in 1987. He has also served as bullpen coach and third base coach for the Red Sox (1992-94), in addition to big-league coaching stints with the Brewers (2000-02) and Orioles (2010).
Fisher Cats president Rick Brenner welcomed newcomers Allenson and Hebner to the organization on Monday: 'Gary Al Allenson and Richie Hebner have both built outstanding reputations throughout their playing and coaching careers,' he said. 'It's been an exciting off-season for the Blue Jays and we anticipate an exciting summer for the Fisher Cats.'
The Blue Jays made official several minor-league staff positions on Monday and also announced Bob Tarpey will return as athletic trainer for the Fisher Cats, and Brian Pike of Gorham returns as strength and conditioning coach.
Allenson, who was not available for comment, was a ninth-round draft pick of the Red Sox in 1976. He reached the majors in 1978 but didn't play in his first MLB game until 1979, when he batted .203 for the Red Sox as a rookie. Teammates and broadcasters alike often referred to Allenson as 'Muggsy.' He served as backup catcher to both Fisk and Rich Gedman during his six seasons with Boston. Allenson, a career .221 hitter with 19 homers, retired after spending part of the 1985 season with the Blue Jays.
The hiring process was led by Blue Jays minor league field coordinator Doug Davis, who served as Fisher Cats manager in 2006.
'He's got a tremendous amount of managing experience. We are thrilled to have him. (Double-A) is a very important level for us from a development standpoint,' Davis said. 'Gary is committed to developing players.'
Fasano spent two seasons guiding the Fisher Cats. His 2011 squad won the Eastern League title, and the 2012 team struggled to a last-place finish.
'Sal got to Double-A in a hurry. One year things worked out, and it was big challenge for him last year. He learned an awful lot,' Davis said. 'I think the move (to catching coordinator) is a natural progression for Sal. He's so passionate about working with catchers.'