No stranger to the Midwest League, Tom Lawless will manage the Clinton LumberKings in 2020.
After leading short-season Batavia to a division title in the New York-Penn League last season, Lawless will manage a Midwest League team for the fourth time in his career after being promoted by the Miami Marlins to manage Clinton during the upcoming season.
Lawless managed Cedar Rapids for three seasons, leading the Kernels to the 1994 Midwest League title before working as the manager of a 2000 Peoria team which included Albert Pujols and Coco Crisp. He also managed Fort Wayne in 2001.
An eight-year major-league veteran who spent time with the Cardinals, Reds, Blue Jays and Expos, Lawless is in his second season with the Marlins organization after spending six seasons working in the Astros organization.
He managed Batavia to a 41-35 record last season and the title in the Pinckney Division in the New York-Penn League.
With Houston, Lawless managed Class A clubs in Lexington and Lancaster as well as at the Double-A level in Corpus Christi and the Triple-A level at Oklahoma City before serving as the Astros’ interim manager at the major-league level in 2014, replacing Bo Porter and guiding Houston to an 11-13 record in 24 games.
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As a player, Lawless made his major-league debut on July 15, 1982 for Cincinnati, but was in a St. Louis uniform for 162 of his 343 games in the majors.
The infielder is best known with the Cardinals for hitting a dramatic home run in the fourth game of the 1987 World Series.
With Clinton, Lawless will lead a staff that includes two returning coaches from a 2019 team which finished 78-61 and reached the Midwest League Championship Series for the eighth time in the franchise’s 64 years in the league.
The LumberKings and Marlins announced Monday that pitching coach Mark DiFelice and coach Frank Moore will return to Clinton for the 2020 season, joining Lawless and first-year hitting coach Matt Snyder on the coaching staff.
DiFelice oversaw a LumberKings pitching staff in 2019 which combined for a 3.14 earned run average, while Moore will be Clinton’s defensive coach after serving as the LumberKings’ hitting coach a year ago.
Snyder completed his professional playing career last season. Initially a 10th-round pick of the Yankees in 2012 out of Mississippi, he hit .270 in 51 games last season at the Triple-A level for the Marlins’ New Orleans affiliate.
Melissa Hampton will return to Clinton as the team’s athletic trainer for a second season. Sam Sauer, an Iowa State graduate, will work as the LumberKings strength and conditioning coach after joining the Marlins from IMG Academy in Florida where he worked as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.