CORPUS CHRISTI (CC HOOKS MEDIA) - Rodney Linares, who owns a .621 winning percentage over the past two seasons as Hooks manager, is back to lead the club in 2017, the Astros player development department announced Tuesday.
With a pair of Texas League South Division first-half titles under his belt, Linares has punched a playoff ticket in each of the past five seasons. The 2015 Texas League Manager of the Year helped Lancaster capture California League championships in 2012 and 2014. He won Cal League Manager of the Year honors in 2013.
In 2016, Linares picked up his fourth consecutive first-half crown as the Hooks penned a 47-23 record. The campaign featured a club-record 11-game win streak and finished with the squad a season-best 30 games over .500 at 85-55. Linares' 2015 team holds the Corpus Christi standard at 89-51.
"We are excited to have Rodney return this season," Hooks president Ken Schrom said. "He is a proven leader, teacher and communicator. His presence in this community means a lot to our organization. It's like bringing back an old friend."
Also back in 2017 are pitching coach Dave Borkowski, development coach Tommy Kawamura and athletic trainer Grant Hufford. Joel Chimelis, who tutored Hooks hitters in 2012, returns to the Coastal Bend following a four-year run at Quad Cities, the Astros' Midwest League affiliate. Strength and conditioning coach Dwayne Peterson rounds out the Corpus Christi staff.
Last season, Borkowski's pitchers ranked among the Texas League leaders in saves (55, 1st), shutouts (15, T-1st) and ERA (3.49, 2nd). Hooks hurlers issued the fewest walks (345) while registering the second-most strikeouts (1,132) in the circuit. Borkowski made 181 Major League appearances (21 starts) over seven seasons with Detroit (1999-2001), Baltimore (2004) and Houston (2006-2008). This marks his eighth season as a pitching coach in the Astros system.
Selected by Oakland in the 11th round of the 1988 draft out of the University of Texas, Chimelis played 13 years in the minor leagues, posting a career .288 batting average in 1,264 games and 4,553 at-bats. The Brooklyn native is in his 12th season as a coach in the Houston organization. In addition to his time spent with the Hooks and River Bandits, Chimelis has instructed hitters at Tri-City (2006-10) and Lexington (2011). His tenure with Quad Cities includes a Midwest League championship in 2013.
Kawamura bounced between the Midwest and Texas Leagues last season, supporting Houston's player development initiatives. The 24-year-old earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics and Economics from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.
Hufford, the reigning Texas League Athletic Trainer of the Year, readies for his third season with Corpus Christi. A 10-year veteran in the Astros system, Hufford landed an assignment with the Glendale Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League in 2015. He was also honored as the Cal League's top athletic trainer in 2013.
Peterson's tour with Astros affiliates features single-year stops in Lancaster (2016), Quad Cities (2015) and Greeneville (2014). In 2013, he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Northern Kentucky University.