LaHair set to return for 2nd season as Dragons manager with new staff

Bryan LaHair returns for his second season as manager of the High-A Dayton Dragons, but he’s the only repeat member of a staff that will lead the 23rd edition of the Dragons at Day Air Ballpark.

Coaching staffs of all the Reds affiliates were announced on the Reds’ Hot Stove League radio program Tuesday night.

He’s also the only staff member with playing experience in the major leagues, with Seattle and Chicago over parts of three seasons. A first baseman, he was a National League All-Star with the Cubs in 2012.

Joining LaHair on the staff will be pitching coach Todd Naskedov, hitting coach Eric Richardson and bench coach Osmin Melendez.

While the Dragons did not make the Midwest League playoffs last year, they did compile a 15-5 finish to end the season 67-61, the only Reds’ affiliate with a winning record.

They had a similar record to start the season at 18-5.

“I considered it a successful season with the (number) of guys (players) who moved on,” LaHair said during a short telephone interview. “Wins and losses, they come. We ran into a tough stretch there in the middle of the season. We had a lot of new players and new faces. The group we had there at the end was very strong.”

Last season’s pitching and hitting coaches —Brian Garman and Daryle Ward — were both promoted to Class AA Chattanooga and bench coach Juan Samuel has not yet signed with any team.

Additionally, the Dragons announced that Josh Hobson will serve as the club’s athletic trainer and Joel Canacoo will be the team’s strength and conditioning coach. Peterson Plaz will serve as performance coach.

Naskedov, who coached more than 20 years in high school and college, was pitching coach at Class A Daytona last season following four seasons in the Houston organization.

Richardson is also in his second season in the Reds’ organization and in his 10th year as a professional coach. He was hitting coach at AA Chattanooga last summer and had previously been in the Phillies and White sox organizations.

Melendez is in his first year with the Reds after spending 20 seasons with the Cubs and Pirates.

“A lot of energy and good work ethic,” LaHair said of his staff. “We’re going to have a good time, and we’re going to get these guys better.”

Minor league players report to Spring Training in Goodyear, Ariz., next month and the Dragons will open their season on Thursday, April 6, at Lake County. The Dragons’ home opener is Tuesday, April 11, vs. Great Lakes.

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