Orioles Unveil 2012 Minor League Coaching Staffs

BALTIMORE—With all the changes the Orioles have seen this offseason, the roster of their 2012 minor league managers and coaches contained few surprises.

As expected, former Red Sox first-base coach Ron Johnson will be in charge of Triple-A Norfolk. Gary Kendall returns to Double-A Bowie, Orlando Gomez returns to high Class A Frederick and Ryan Minor returns to low Class A Delmarva. Gary Allenson moves down from Norfolk to short-season Aberdeen. Ramon Sambo returns as manager of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League squad, and Elvis Morel will manage the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League team.

Brad Komminsk, who served last year as Norfolk's hitting coach, moves down to Aberdeen with Allenson. Denny Walling, formerly a minor league hitting instructor, will be the Tides' new hitting coach.

The pitching coaches at the top four levels remain the same: Mike Griffin at Norfolk, Kennie Steenstra at Bowie, Blaine Beatty at Frederick and Troy Mattes at Delmarva. The interesting hire comes at Aberdeen, where former Orioles reliever Alan Mills has returned to the organization. He replaces Scott McGregor, who was named pitching rehab coordinator.

Another key hire was Mike Boulanger as coordinator of minor league hitting instruction. Boulanger was a minor league manager in the Red Sox system from 2000-02, when Orioles general manger Dan Duquette was Boston's GM. He later served as the Rangers' Triple-A hitting coach at the same time that Buck Showalter was managing in Texas.

"Our first bullet point this year is on-base percentage," Boulanger told MASNsports.com. "Sometimes, people take that to mean just taking pitches, but it's trying to get a good pitch to hit and that involves a lot of time and teaching about how we will try to do that, how we will try to shrink the strike zone.

"At the end of the day, if you have nine guys buying into that, the other team will throw a lot of pitches and you'll get into their bullpen. By the time they get to the big leagues, that learning curve is so steep at the major league level that you'd like to think that all these things are in place."

Former shortstop Mike Bordick, who joined the MASN broadcast team, also will serve as a special assignment instructor.

Bird Seed

• The Orioles invited Bowie outfielders Xavier Avery and L.J. Hoes to big league camp. Avery, a second-round pick in 2008, batted .259/.324/.343 last season. Hoes, a third-round pick in the same draft, hit .305/.379/.413.

• Other Orioles spring training invites include righthanders Willie Eyre, Armando Galarraga, Steve Johnson, Jon Link, Pat Neshek, Miguel Socolovich and Oscar Villarreal; lefthanders Ryan Edell and Dennys Reyes, catchers John Hester, Ronny Paulino and Brian Ward, infielder Steve Tolleson and outfielder Scott Beerer.