Billy Gardner, Jr. will return in 2009 for his third season as the Montgomery Biscuits’ manager, according to the Tampa Bay Rays announcement of minor league coaching staffs today.
Gardner, who guided last year’s Biscuits to a 69-70 mark, will be back at the helm, joined by fellow returning coach Neil Allen, who will be leading Montgomery’s pitching staff for a third consecutive season. Sixteen-year major league veteran Ozzie Timmons will take over Ben Oglivie’s spot as coach and Auburn alumnus Lea Slagle will join the team as the Biscuits’ trainer.
For Gardner, 2009 will be his sixteenth season in professional baseball, fourteenth as a minor league manager. The native of Connecticut carries a career mark of 915-903, and a 150-129 record as the skipper for the Biscuits. In his debut season in butter and blue Gardner led the Biscuits to a league-best 81-59 record and their second consecutive Southern League Championship. He was also awarded with Southern League Manager of the Year honors following that season.
Gardner, 42, is the son of former major leaguer Billy Gardner, Sr., who managed the Twins from 1981-85 and the Royals for part of the 1987 season. Prior to his 2007 debut with the Biscuits, he (Jr.) previously managed the Dayton Dragons (Midwest League, 2006), High Desert Mavericks (California League, 2005), Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League, 2003-4), Sarasota Reds (Florida State League, 2002), Trenton Thunder (Eastern League, 2000-1), Augusta GreenJackets (South Atlantic League, 1999), Michigan Battle Cats (Midwest League, 1997-8) and coached the Lowell Spinners (New York-Penn, 1996) and Butte Copper Kings (Pioneer, 1995).
Allen, 50, returns to lead a pitching staff that under his tutelage finished the 2008 season with a 4.28 ERA. Allen is a former bench coach for the New York Yankees and is entering his 29th year of professional baseball. During his 11-year major league career, he pitched 434 games and accumulated a 58-70 record with a 3.88 ERA for the Mets, Cardinals, Yankees, White Sox and Indians.
Timmons, 38, spent last season as coach with the Columbus Catfish (Class-A) in his second season in the Rays’ organization. His hitters ranked third in the 16-team South Atlantic League with a .261 batting average. The club finished with an overall record of 67-69 after finishing the second half with an impressive 40-26 mark.
Timmons is a veteran of 18 years, including 16 in the player ranks. Selected by the Chicago Cubs in the fifth round of the 1991 June Draft, he played 16 seasons with the Cubs, Reds, Mariners, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks and Mets organizations as well as the Chunichi Dragons of the Japanese Baseball League, the Mexican League and Atlantic City of the independent Atlantic League. During his major league career as an outfielder he batted .235 with 20 doubles and 20 home runs in 186 games.
Slagle, a resident of Montgomery, begins his first season as a trainer in the Rays organization after spending three seasons as a trainer in the Texas organization. Prior to the Rangers he spent two seasons in the Boston Red Sox minor league system. He served one season each as head athletic trainer for the Wilmington Blue Rocks and Portland Sea Dogs. In 2003, before his time with the Red Sox, he served as head athletic trainer for the Kinston Indians. Lee began his career as trainer in the Montreal Expos organization from 1991-95. He is also a certified athletic trainer with the National Athletic Trainer’s Association and an associate member of the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers’ Society.