Padres hire Powell as assistant hitting coach

Padres hire Powell as assistant hitting coach

Padres hire Powell as assistant hitting coach
SAN DIEGO -- On the day he finished his duties in the Arizona Fall League as the hitting coach for the Peoria Javelinas, Alonzo Powell was hired as the assistant hitting coach for the Padres.

Not more than a few hours after his hire was made official, new Padres hitting coach Phil Plantier -- who was hired last month -- was asked how soon Powell would start to get acclimated with the hitters that he has inherited.

"Alonzo needs a couple of days off ... he has been going at it every day since February," Plantier joked. "We will give him until December. We're going to get him caught up on the guys and get him some video. And I'll share information with him."

The Padres' two-headed hitting coach is now in place. Powell won't be in uniform or in the dugout during games, but the team feels Powell will serve a vital role in working with the hitters.

Plantier, who worked with Powell when both were coaching in the Mariners' system, is certain he's found the right match for the job in Powell.

"I saw him work with players, he's very knowledgeable and he brings the right kind of passion to the job," Plantier said. "Between the two of us, we are going to complement each other well for the players we have here."

Before general manager Jed Hoyer left for the same post with the Cubs, he had his sights set on having two hitting coaches, something the Cardinals employed this past season -- with Mark McGwire in the dugout and Mike Aldrete working behind the scenes.

"With virtually every ballpark having two cages -- the one on the field and the one inside -- there are a lot of times where one guy can't be both places," former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said during the playoffs.

"Sometimes, even we have two indoor cages. You can't watch both. And then there's the video work. If you're playing a series, the next one gets there in a hurry, so Mike will generally stay ahead. Any time Mark is somewhere, he's the other place."

This is what the Padres envision, and it's why they tabbed Plantier and now Powell to fill these roles.

"In today's game, with video, advance reports, the workload, guys getting to the ballpark at 1 o'clock ... it's a tough task for one person to handle," Powell said. "But in talking to Phil, I think it's something where we can complement each other. I will try to implement the things he's doing."

Powell is certainly no stranger to professional baseball. The 2012 season will be his 29th in a game that has taken him just about everywhere domestically to seven seasons as a player in Japan.

Powell was the hitting coach for the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma from 2008-10 when he took over as interim hitting coach of the Mariners on May 9 after 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.

The 46-year-old Powell began his professional career in the Giants' farm system after he signed as a free agent in 1983. Powell first reached the Major League with the Expos in 1987 and hit .195 in 14 games. In 1991, he hit .216 in 57 games with the Mariners.

Powell 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 in Japan.

After his career in Japan, 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.

"We are excited about Alonzo coming on board to be part of our staff," Padres manager Bud Black said in a statement. "He brings a tremendous amount of experience as a player and coach. In this new role working with Phil, I believe they will bring the best out of our hitters."

One of Powell's brightest pupils this fall in the Arizona Fall League was Padres third-base prospect Jedd Gyorko. Gyorko won the AFL batting title (.437) even though he did not play the last week of the season because of a tight hamstring and quadriceps.

"He has a great feel to swing the bat, really good instincts," Powell said of Gyorko. "He has a chance to be a very good hitter. He's a professional hitter at a young age, which is something you don't see that often. He has a chance to come along pretty fast."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.