The Guardians have hired Dan Puente for an unspecified role on their major league coaching staff, per a report from The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma. Puente, 42, was a 12th-round pick in the 2004 draft by the Orioles and played in the minor leagues for two seasons, though he didn’t make it past the Single-A level before retiring from professional baseball. During his post-playing career, Puente took roles in the Astros and White Sox organizations before eventually landing a hitting coach gig in the Cubs’ minor league system prior to the 2020 campaign. He’s remained with the Cubs as a minor league hitting coach ever since, most recently coaching at High-A South Bend this past season.
While it’s not yet known what role Puente will take on in Cleveland, it’s worth noting that the Guardians lost assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez to the Padres earlier this winter when Rodriguez was offered a job as hitting coach under new manager Mike Shildt. Cleveland’s coaching staff has seen some noticeable turnover this winter, headlined by longtime skipper Terry Francona’s retirement from managing. Since Stephen Vogt was hired to take over for Francona as manager, the club has added Craig Albernaz as bench coach and Kai Correa as fielding coordinator. The club’s new coaching staff figures to have their hands full as they look to return to contention after a surprising third place finish in a weak AL Central division last year. The club’s 76-86 record put them two games behind the Tigers for second place and a whopping 11 games back of the Twins for the division crown.
More from the league’s Central divisions…
- Cubs fans enjoyed the club’s annual Cubs Convention this weekend, and comments from president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer regarding the club’s offseason were among the events on the event itinerary. As noted by The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney, Hoyer seemingly pumped the breaks on trade rumors regarding young slugger Christopher Morel, whose name has swirled in trade rumors throughout the offseason. While Morel wasn’t in attendance at this weekend’s festivities, Mooney relays that Hoyer described the idea that Morel’s absence was due to a potential trade in the works as “laughable.” Morel slashed a solid .247/.314/.508 while slugging 26 homers in just 107 games in 2023, though his position for the 2024 season is up in the air after spending much of last season at DH.
- White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease has been the topic of plenty of trade talks throughout the offseason, and WEII’s Rob Bradford recently spoke to the hurler about the barrage of rumors about his future this winter. Cease told Bradford that he takes most rumors “with a grain of salt” and noted that he hasn’t spoken with the club’s front office about the possibility of a trade, though he did acknowledge that “Publicly saying it’s an option is like an indirect way of letting me know.” Cease added that whether or not he’s traded has no impact on his offseason work, saying that “At the end of the day, it really isn’t my job… My job is to perform wherever I go and be a good player.” The 28-year-old righty is coming off a down season where he pitched to a 4.58 ERA over 33 starts put finished as the runner-up for the AL Cy Young award just one year prior after posting a 2.20 ERA in 184 innings of work back in 2022.
- Back issues played a role in limiting Cardinals infielder Nolan Gorman to just 119 games last year, and Daniel Guerrero of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch relays that the 23-year-old slugger has changed his offseason routine in hopes of staying healthy throughout the 2024 campaign. While Gorman told Guerrero that he hasn’t been able to pin down a specific cause of the issues, he’s been focusing on mobility and flexibility this offseason while working with a nutritionist to best prepare himself for the upcoming season. Gorman flashed impressive power in 2023, slashing .236/.328/.478 with 27 homers in just 119 games last year. Gorman split time between second base, third base, and DH last season and figures to split time between second base and DH with Brendan Donovan headed into the 2024 campaign.