CHARLESTON, SC – The New York Yankees have announced that Luis Dorante, who last year led the Charleston RiverDogs to a 71-69 record, will return as the club’s manager in 2015.
He becomes the first manager to lead the RiverDogs in back-to-back seasons since Torre Tyson in 2008-09.
“I’m very happy to be coming back to Charleston,” said Dorante. “Charleston is a great city with a terrific ball park and great fans. There is a tremendous atmosphere at our home games.
“Every game there is something special going on, and the players feed off that excitement,” he added. “We came up a little short last year (of making the playoffs), but we’ll do better this year.”
Prior to joining the RiverDogs in 2014, Dorante served as bullpen coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2008-10 and managed 11 seasons in the minor leagues.
Dorante was the first base coach for the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate, in 2012 and ’13, and he also skippered the Aguilas de Zulia to a 34-29 record in the Venezuelan Winter League during the 2013 offseason which was good for second place. A native of Falcon, Venezuela, he spent six seasons as a player in the Boston Red Sox organization prior to beginning his coaching career.
Born on October 25, 1968, Dorante appeared in 221 games over six seasons in the Red Sox farm system. A right-handed batter, he primarily caught, but also made appearances at first base, third base and in the outfield. Dorante compiled a career batting average of .216 with 32 doubles.
After retiring following the 1993 season, Dorante joined the Montreal Expos organization in 1994 as an international scout. The next year he began his managerial career when he steered the Expos’ Gulf Coast League team to a 21-35 record. He has managed in five different leagues over his 11 seasons at the helm, including the South Atlantic League in 1998 when he guided the now-defunct Cape Fear Crocs to a solid 80-61 finish.
After the RiverDogs recorded a 33-37 first half start in 2014, Dorante guided the club to an improved 38-32 second half mark.
Joining the staff as the team’s hitting coach is former RiverDogs manager and hitting coach Greg Colbrunn. A veteran of 13 major league seasons as a player, Colbrunn, who resides in nearby Mt. Pleasant, recently concluded a two-year stint (20013-14) as the hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox, which won the World Series in 2013.
The 46-year-old Colbrunn spent six of the last eight years with the RiverDogs, serving five seasons as the hitting coach from 2007-09 and 2011-12, and one campaign as the club’s manager in 2010.
Selected by Montreal in the sixth round of the 1987 draft out of Fontana (CA) High School as a catcher, Colbrunn hit .289 (801-for-2,769) with 155 doubles, 12 triples, 98 home runs, 422 RBI, 337 runs, 170 walks and 29 stolen bases over 992 career big league games with the Expos (1992-93), Marlins (1994-96), Twins (1997), Braves (1997-98), Rockies (1998), Diamondbacks (1999-2002, ’04) and Mariners (2003) while appearing primarily at first base.
The former infielder spent 13 seasons in the major leagues with stints in Montreal, Florida, Minnesota, Atlanta, Arizona, Colorado and Seattle. He won a World Series ring playing for the Diamondbacks in 2001 when the team upset the New York Yankees. He collected his second ring with the Red Sox in 2013.
The Yankees also announced that Tim Norton would serve as pitching coach and Travis Chapman as the defensive coach.
Norton comes to Charleston after serving as the Single A Staten Island Yankees pitching coach in 2014, where the staff’s composite ERA was 3.46. Norton was drafted by the New York Yankees in the seventh round in 2006 coming out of the University of Connecticut where he was named to the preseason All-Big East team and led the Huskies with a 2.04 ERA. He commanded the Huskies with 226 career strikeouts finishing second on the Connecticut all-time list. The 2006 season with UConn earned him a spot on the All-Big East First Team and All-New England First Team. Norton was a member of the 2007 RiverDogs pitching staff, appearing in five games, and he advanced as far as AAA with the Yankees in 2011 before entering the coaching ranks.
Chapman, a native of Jacksonville, Fla., begins his first season with Charleston and his third as a coach in the Yankees system. He made his managerial debut in 2014, leading the GCL Yankees to the best record in the Northwest Division (38-22). Chapman made his professional coaching debut in 2013 as a coach for the GCL Yankees, helping lead the club to a 36-24 (.600) record and a first-place finish in the Northeast Division. As a player, Chapman was originally selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 17th round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft. He played in 506 combined minor league games over seven seasons with the Philadelphia (2000-03), Kansas City (2004), Cincinnati (2005) and Pittsburgh (2006) organizations and hit .286 (506-for-1,771) with 227 runs, 117 doubles, 41 home runs and 286 RBI, mostly at third base. He attended Mississippi State University from 1997-2000, where he set the school’s career records for doubles (71), sacrifice flies (22) and hit-by-pitches (44), as well as the single-season hit-by-pitches record (19).
Additionally, Jimmy Downam, who was with the RiverDogs last year, will return as the trainer while Anthony Velazquez, who also was with Charleston in 2014, returns as the strength and conditioning coach.
The RiverDogs open the 2015 home campaign on Thursday, April 9, when the Lexington Legends invade Riley Park with a scheduled first pitch at 7:05 pm. For tickets and more information, please contact the RiverDogs Box Office at 843-577-DOGS (3647) or online at www.riverdogs.com.