PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Charlotte Stone Crabs will defend their second consecutive FSL South division title with some familiar faces in the dugout: manager Jim Morrison and hitting coach Joe Szekely will return with Steve Watson joining them as pitching coach for the upcoming 2011 season.
Morrison, 58, returns for his third year as manager of the Stone Crabs and fourth consecutive year as the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays High-A affiliate after managing the Vero Beach Devil Rays in 2008. He led the Stone Crabs to a 1st half division title and an 80-59 overall record last year, while guiding the club to a second straight trip to the FSL Championship Series.
The former Major League infielder enters his 27th season in professional baseball and fifth season in the Rays’ organization. Before reaching the High-A level, Morrison managed the Low-A Columbus Catfish to a South Atlantic League title in 2007, and he also served stints as a roving infield instructor, coach and manager in the Philadelphia Phillies organization for seven years from 2000-06.
Before entering the coaching ranks in 2000, Morrison enjoyed a 15-year playing career as an infielder, including 12 major league seasons with the Phillies, White Sox, Pirates, Tigers and Braves before retiring in 1988. In 1,089 career games, he batted .260 with 112 home runs and 371 RBIs. He currently resides in Bradenton, Fla.
Steve Watson joins the Stone Crabs as the only newcomer on the 2011 coaching staff after serving three seasons in the Florida Marlins organization. Watson, a graduate of Florida Southern College in Lakeland, served as the pitching coach for the Jupiter Hammerheads (A) last season and previously coached in the Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds organizations.
Szekely, 49, also returns for a third season with the Stone Crabs after serving in the same capacity last year. He enters his seventh season in the Rays’ organization with four years spent as a manager in Princeton, Vero Beach, Visalia and Southwestern Michigan. Under his tutelage, Stone Crabs hitters compiled a .259 batting average with 503 runs scored during the 2010 season. Szekely spent six seasons with the Kansas City Royals organization before joining the Rays in 2005. Before coaching, he played 11 Minor League seasons with four different organizations.