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Casey Candaele Melds Old School With New



When the pandemic shut down spring training last year, Blue Jays minor league field coordinator Casey Candaele headed home to San Luis Obispo, Calif., with a simple goal.

“We tried to do as much as we could with the players who were stuck at home and not having the ability to get into any complex or do any baseball activity,” said Candaele, 60, a veteran of 754 big league games.

“A lot of Zoom calls and a lot of communication, just trying do the best that we could and the best that I could as a field coordinator without a field, you know?”

Candaele’s efforts drew enough internal appreciation that the Blue Jays have added manager of Triple-A Buffalo to his plate this year. He replaces Ken Huckaby, who was fired after running the club’s alternate training site in Rochester, N.Y., last year.

The Bisons gig will be Candaele’s third managerial stop in a professional coaching career that began after a decade away from the game. In 2018, he managed High-A Dunedin, while in 2019 he ran short-season Vancouver.

It’s an unusual path for Candaele, who in 2011 returned to the game as the Rangers' infield and baserunning coordinator. In 2015, Texas promoted him to field coordinator, and the next year the Mariners hired him as first base coach.

“I’m a pretty young manager, even though I’m an old man,” he quipped.

Pivotal in his progression has been a willingness to embrace the game’s data revolution. When he first returned to pro ball, “I was like a kindergartner, going, ‘Whoa, that's pretty deep,' " he said.

Now, he looks at the data favorably.

"It reinforces a lot when you're coaching, and it also lets you adjust when maybe you're not right in what you see," Candaele said. "Everybody used to say, ‘Oh, I see that he's doing this.’ Now it's like, ‘Well, I see this. Is this what the data is telling me?’

The trick is in melding that IQ with the human element, an area of focus for Candaele, who strives to be the manager he wanted as a player.

JAYS CHATTER

— Cesar Martin returns as the manager at Double-A New Hampshire. He was hired for the position last year but the pandemic pushed back his debut.

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