- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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The New York Mets officially announced manager Terry Collins' coaching staff Monday, naming longtime Triple-A manager Ken Oberkfell as his bench coach, '86 Met Mookie Wilson as first base coach, Dave Hudgens as hitting coach and Jon Debus as bullpen coach.
Pitching coach Dan Warthen and third base coach Chip Hale are holdovers from Jerry Manuel's staff.
Oberkfell, 54, has managed the Mets' Triple-A affiliate for the past six seasons, through stops in Norfolk, New Orleans and Buffalo. The lone interruption came during the second half of the 2008 season, when he served as Mets first base coach after manager Willie Randolph and some of his coaches were fired. Oberkfell, whose laid-back demeanor should contrast with Collins' Type A personality, has managed Escogido in the Dominican winter league the past two seasons. He led that club to the Caribbean Series title last offseason. He played infield for 16 seasons in the major leagues, primarily for the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves.
Wilson will be in his second tour of duty as Mets first base coach. He also served in that capacity from 1997-2002 under Bobby Valentine. He served as minor league outfield and baserunning coordinator last season after spending four years in private business. Wilson, 54, played 10 seasons with the Mets, and preserves the run of '86 Mets representation on the coaching staff. (Howard Johnson is remaining with the organization, but will be reassigned from his previous role as hitting coach at the major league level.)
Hudgens, 54, was selected from a field of three interviewees for hitting coach, beating out former Pittsburgh Pirates hitting coach Don Long, who had been recommended by Jason Bay, and former Detroit first base coach Andy Van Slyke, who had connections to Collins from his playing days and was endorsed by Tigers manager Jim Leyland. Hudgens manages Caracas in the Venezuelan winter league. He was a minor league manager in Oakland, coinciding with the Mets front office's time there, so he already is familiar with the high-on-base-percentage philosophy sure now to be espoused in Flushing.
Debus, 52, takes over the role that usually goes unnoticed, but became more visible under predecessor Randy Niemann because of a confrontation with Francisco Rodriguez in the Citi Field bullpen in 2009 in full view of spectators. Debus played various positions, including catcher, during 10 seasons in the minors with the Dodgers, and later managed their affiliates for six years. He spent the 2005 season as bullpen coach with Los Angeles, and followed Collins to Japan for the new Mets manager's short tenure with the Orix Buffaloes. Collins credits Debus for helping develop Russell Martin as a catcher with L.A.
Hale, 46, was one of the four finalists for the managerial job, and had a strong recommendation from ownership to remain on the major league staff. The Mets noticeably improved in their decision-making on the basepaths with Hale assigned to the third base coaching box, as compared with predecessors in that role. Hale, known for his work ethic and meticulous preparation, also served as third base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks before joining the Mets last season.
Under Warthen, the Mets' pitching staff performed well in 2010, despite a lack of proven arms, particularly in the bullpen. Overall, the team's pitching staff ranked sixth in the National League with a 3.70 ERA.
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.