The Oakland A’s named Ryan Christenson as their new bench coach on Thursday, the team announced. The 43-year-old spent the last five seasons as a manager in the A’s minor league system.
Christenson, a SoCal native, spent most of his playing career in Oakland. He was drafted by the A’s in 1995 and made his MLB debut three years later, grading out as a solid CF but a light hitter. He roamed the Coliseum outfield until being traded midway through 2001, and retired two years later after quick stints with three other clubs (ARI, MIL, TEX).
Fast forward 10 years, and he began his coaching career as a manager in the A’s lower minors. He’s since made a rapid rise up the system.
2013: Single-A Beloit Snappers
2014: High-A Stockton Ports
2015: Double-A Midland RockHounds
2016: Double-A Midland RockHounds
2017: Triple-A Nashville Sounds
He did spend one extra year in Double-A, but we can forgive him for his tarrying. He led both of his RockHounds teams to league championships, and in the latter year he won Texas League Manager of the Year honors. In fact, every team he’s ever managed made the playoffs, except for last year’s Sounds who lost all their stars to MLB promotions.
In January I wrote this article about the the winning tradition of the incoming rookies (Olson, Pinder, etc.), and Christenson was present for the majority of that success. Just about every relevant member of the A’s current youth movement has played on a Christenson-led team at some point in the minors, and the majority of the 2018 roster will likely be made up of those youngsters.
As for the rest of the 2018 coaching staff, it shakes out like this for now:
Manager: Bob Melvin
Bench: Ryan Christenson
1st base: Mike Aldrete
3rd base: Chip Hale
Pitching: Scott Emerson
Bullpen: Garvin Alston
Hitting: Darren Bush
Asst Hitting: Marcus Jensen
Absent from the list is Mark Kotsay, who opened last season as the bench coach. He stepped away from the team midseason to be with his daughter during a medical emergency and its aftermath. The team is “in the process of finding a role for Kotsay,” reports the S.F. Chronicle.
Other than Kotsay, the A’s last two bench coaches are still on the staff. Hale served from 2012-14 before doing a stint as the manager of the Diamondbacks, at which point Oakland replaced him with Aldrete for 2015 (and then Kotsay for 2016-17). Hale returned to the role last June to cover for Kotsay. There’s also strong experience on Bush’s resume, as he spent several years as a manager in the A’s minors and led Midland to a ring in 2009 before it was trendy.
Welcome back to Oakland, Ryan! We’ve been expecting you.
P.S. Progress report! My 2014 Stockton AN Day autographs are getting better every year — all three signers are now in MLB, as is Addison Russell (he’s on the back of this card).