The Padres have seen bench coach Mark McGwire step down from his post and dismissed hitting coach Matt Stairs and infield coach Josh Johnson in recent weeks. They’re filling the gaps on the coaching staff from within, per a team announcement. Former big league catcher Rod Barajas, who has been serving as the Padres’ Triple-A manager for the past three seasons, will be the Friars’ new bench coach in 2019. San Diego is promoting assistant hitting coach Johnny Washington to hitting coach. Meanwhile, another former big leaguer, Damion Easley, is moving up from the team’s minor league ranks to serve as assistant hitting coach and infield coach.
Barajas, 43, spent parts of 14 seasons as a catcher in the big leagues, seeing action with the D-backs, Rangers, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Mets, Pirates and Phillies. A career .235/.284/.407 hitter in 3784 plate appearances, he’s managed at three levels in the minors and also served as a hitting coach. He’s been connected to Major League managerial openings in the past, most recently seeing his name floated as a potential candidate in the Rangers’ ongoing search. I’s not clear if he ever received an interview, but presumably, his appointment as the bench coach in San Diego indicates that he is not under serious consideration in Arlington either way.
The 34-year-old Washington is among the league’s youngest coaches and has somewhat remarkably already spent two seasons on the Padres’ big league staff. He won’t turn 35 until next May, but Washington has already been coaching professionally since the 2010 season and has steadily risen to more prominent roles in spite of his youth.
Now 48 years of age, Easley is likely a familiar name for many fans after playing 17 seasons in the Majors — from 1992 through 2008. An All-Star and Silver Slugger winner at second base in a career-year back in ’98, Easley spent seven seasons with the Tigers, five with the Angels, two apiece with the Mets and Marlins and individual seasons with the D-backs and Rays. He was a career .253/.329/.404 hitter in his 17 seasons and has been coaching in the Padres’ minor league ranks for the past seven years.
The rest of the Padres’ coaching staff will include returnees Darren Balsley (pitching coach), Doug Bochtler (bullpen), Glenn Hoffman (third base) and recently retired utilityman Skip Schumaker (first base).