Luis Rodriguez returns as manager; Rich “El Guapo” Garces named Pitching Coach
(Bridgeport, Conn., Dec. 14, 2016) – The Bridgeport Bluefish today announced that Luis Rodriguez will return as Manager in 2017. The team has also appointed Rich Garces as Pitching Coach.
Rodriguez returns for his tenth season with the Bluefish, as he spent his first eight years as a player. After transitioning into a player/coach role in 2012, he made his managerial debut during the 2016 season. This will also be his 12th season in the Atlantic League and 25th of professional baseball. He is currently coaching for La Guaira of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League under Manager Ozzie Guillen, who guest-managed for the Bluefish on Friday, August 19, 2016 against the Somerset Patriots.
“We’re proud to announce the return of Luis as our skipper for our 20th anniversary season,” said Bluefish General Manager Jamie Toole. “He has been an integral part of the organization for a decade now, and made some great improvements this past season as Manager. We can’t wait to see what 2017 holds for Luis and the rest of the club.”
At the beginning of the 2013 season, the 42-year-old participated in the World Baseball Classic as part of the coaching staff for Team Venezuela. Along with manager Luis Sojo, he helped coach the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Pablo Sandoval, and Elvis Andrus.
“I’m honored to have been asked to come back as Manager of the Bluefish this season,” said Luis Rodriguez. “I believe my extensive time with the team has helped me grow and learn about the league and allow me to understand what it takes to be a great Manager. This year we are going to come back stronger and fight even harder to win that championship ring.”
Known as “The Machete” for his penchant for cutting down runners on the basepaths with a cannon of an arm, Rodriguez has played for the Long Island Ducks and the Nashua Pride, then of the Atlantic League, before coming to Bridgeport in 2008. Although he is primarily a catcher, the Venezuelan native has played every position and has a .985 career fielding percentage.
The veteran backstop brings extensive professional experience to Bridgeport, including eight stints at the Triple-A level with the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Cardinals and Tigers organizations. Over his minor league career, Luis has appeared in 1,720 games, recording a .253 batting average with 106 home runs and 733 RBI. He was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent at the age of 17 by the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 1, 1991.
Garces joins the Bluefish staff during his 28th year of professional baseball. Since 2008, he has been coaching in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League (VPBL) and Mexican Baseball League (MBL). He served as the Pitching Coach for the Zulia Eagles (VPBL) from 2008 to 2012, Pitching Coach for the Monclova Steelers (MBL) in 2013, and Bullpen Coach for the Caracas Lions (VPBL) from 2015 to 2016. He is currently serving as Pitching Coach for Caracas. This will be his third season in the Atlantic League, having played for the Nashua Pride alongside Bluefish Manager Luis Rodriguez in 2007 and 2008.
“We’re thrilled to have El Guapo join us this season,” said Paul Herrmann, Bluefish Assistant General Manager & Director of Baseball Operations. “He is a veteran of the game and we believe his coaching experience in Venezuela and Mexico will translate perfectly into his role here in Bridgeport.”
The 45-year-old began his playing career in 1988 after being signed by the Minnesota Twins as an undrafted free agent. He spent his first seven seasons with the Twins organization, making his Major League debut in 1990. He has also appeared with the Chicago Cubs, Florida Marlins, and Boston Red Sox, which he called home for seven consecutive seasons from 1996 to 2002. Rich, commonly referred to as "El Guapo," made 287 big league appearances. He owns a 23-10 record with a 3.74 ERA and 296 strikeouts in 341.1 innings pitched.
“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to return to the Atlantic League and continue my coaching career alongside my friend Luis,” said Rich Garces. “We are looking forward to a great season and I am excited to work with the talented pitchers on this team.”
Across his 19-year playing career, Rich has made 644 career minor league appearances. He owns 42 victories with a 3.64 ERA and 915 strikeouts in 980.0 innings.
About the Bridgeport Bluefish
The Bridgeport Bluefish are members of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball and play their home games at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard. For further information, call 203-210-BLUE (2583) or visit BridgeportBluefish.com.
About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)
The Atlantic League has been a leader in professional baseball and a gateway to Major League Baseball since 1998. Over 36 million fans have attended Atlantic League games and more than 800 players and 50 managers and coaches have joined MLB organizations directly from the ALPB. The Atlantic League emphasizes winning baseball games, showcasing the talent of top-caliber players and offering affordable family entertainment to metropolitan markets serving nearly 15% of the US population.
For more information, please visit www.AtlanticLeague.com.