Powell is Astros' new assistant hitting coach

Powell is Astros' new assistant hitting coach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Astros have hired Alonzo Powell as their assistant hitting coach, manager A.J. Hinch said Monday. Powell, who spent the last four years with the Padres, replaces Alan Zinter, who became the hitting coach in San Diego.

Powell, 50, was hitting coach for the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma from 2008-10 before taking over as interim hitting coach for the Mariners in May 2010 when Alan Cockrell was relieved of his duties. Powell returned as Tacoma's hitting coach in 2011, when the team set a franchise record for runs (893) with a .289 batting average. He joined the Padres the following season.

"Zo brings a lot of passion and experience to our staff," Hinch said. "He has a great impact on our players. I'm excited to add him to our group."

Powell, a former outfielder, began his professional playing career in the Giants' farm system after he signed as a free agent in 1983. Powell first reached the Major Leagues with the Expos in 1987 and hit .195 in 14 games. In 1991, he hit .216 in 57 games with the Mariners.

He found considerably more success in his seven seasons that followed in Japan, as he became the first foreign player to win three Central League batting titles (1994-96). He was also named to five All-Star teams. After his career in the Far East, Powell returned to the United States, where he was hired to be the hitting coach for the Reds' Double-A affiliate in 2002. He spent five seasons with the Reds before Seattle hired him as its Minor League hitting coordinator in 2007.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.