Manager Pedro Grifol figures the Chicago White Sox added “2½” hitting coaches as they rounded out their staff.
José Castro, who spent the last eight seasons with the Atlanta Braves, is the team’s new hitting coach. The Sox promoted Chris Johnson from Triple-A Charlotte to be the assistant hitting coach.
“And let’s not forget that Mike Tosar was hired too,” Grifol said during a video conference call. “He is the major-league field coordinator but he’s going to do some of the hitting as well. It’s almost probably a 2½-headed monster when it comes to the hitting.”
Grifol and general manager Rick Hahn discussed the staff Tuesday.
Eddie Rodríguez takes over as the third base coach while Daryl Boston returns as the first base coach. Geoff Head is the senior director of sports performance.
The Sox previously announced Charlie Montoyo as the bench coach, with Ethan Katz and Curt Hasler returning in their roles as the pitching and bullpen coaches.
“We wound up with a really good mix of people from outside the organization with people who have had success here in Chicago like Ethan and Has,” Hahn said, “as well as the ability to promote people like Chris Johnson from within who we think very highly of. But ultimately Pedro had to bless all of these. Pedro had the final say as to who was going to wind up on his staff.
“As we went through each of the candidates, some of which Pedro brought to the table and some of which we suggested or recommended, ultimately we came to a decision about what the best composition of the staff was. And I couldn’t be happier about the blend of old and new, outside, inside, young, new, different approaches how to prepare players and win baseball games.”
Castro, 64, spent 2015-22 as the Braves assistant hitting coach. Previously he was a quality assurance coach for the Chicago Cubs in 2014 and the Seattle Mariners interim hitting coach in 2008.
“I believe he’s one of the best in-game hitting coaches around,” Grifol said. “He’s got tremendous instincts. He’s been in the big leagues for a long time.”
During Johnson’s two seasons with the Knights, they ranked fifth in the International League in home runs (350) and sixth in slugging percentage (.422).
“I was really impressed by his knowledge of analytics, the terminology he uses,” Grifol said of Johnson, 38. “I think those two, along with Tosar, who was part of that hitting program down in Kansas City, are going to make a great team when it comes to communication with the players, being able to make adjustments and adapt to every single player, every culture and also adapt to any type of analytics or sports sciences that’s thrown our way as well.”
Tosar, 54, spent the last three seasons (2020-22) as a special assignment hitting coach in the Kansas City Royals organization.
Grifol said Tosar brings “a lot of value to the bunting game, he’s got a lot of value to baserunning, certainly he’s got a lot of value to hitting and infield.”
Rodríguez, 63, also comes from the Royals system, like Tosar and Grifol. He spent the last three seasons as their minor-league field coordinator. His coaching experience includes serving as the Royals third base coach (2011-13), Mariners first base coach (2008), Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals bench coach (2004-06), Arizona Diamondbacks third base coach (2002-03) and first base coach (2001) and Toronto Blue Jays third base coach (1998).
“He’s done a lot of things in this game,” Grifol said. “He’s got short-term memory, which is extremely important at that position. He’s aggressive. And he’s extremely detailed.”
Rodríguez will lead the infield, Grifol said, with Tosar and Montoyo helping. Boston, 59, will handle the outfield with Montoyo leading the baserunning.
Grifol said Boston, who will be in his 11th season as first base coach and 26th as a Sox coach, has “great relationships with players” and is “detailed.”
Head, 37, was the senior director of health and performance with the Cincinnati Reds for three seasons (2020-22). He previously spent 12 seasons in the San Francisco Giants organization.
“It’s a completely new position,” Hahn said, “that’s going to help coordinate not only what our strength and conditioning coaches do at the big-league level but throughout our minor-league system, make sure our entire chain of strength and conditioning coaches are doing the same thing.
“But also Geoff will be involved with everything from nutrition to sleep to sports science, working in the lab, working with our technicians, making sure we have the best information for what our players need and what we can do to keep them on the field.”