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Astros hire Thompson for Minors coaching job

Hitting coach candidate named outfield/baserunning coordinator

By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com

Thursday, November 11, 2010 2:51 PM CT

Milt Thompson HOUSTON -- Milt Thompson, who was among six people to interview for the Astros' hitting coach job that eventually went to Mike Barnett, has accepted a position as the team's Minor League outfield/baserunning coordinator, general manager Ed Wade said Thursday.

"We had talked to him about the big league hitting coach job, and when we decided to go with Mike Barnett we sort of started talking to him about opportunities within the organization, and this seemed like a pretty good fit if he was willing to do it," Wade said. "He's done it in the past with the Phillies. He's a great communicator and was an outstanding baserunner when he played in the Majors."

Thompson spent more than five seasons as the hitting coach of the Phillies before being let go in July. He's taking over for Eric Young, who served as the Minor League outfield/baserunning coordinator for one year before becoming first-base coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Astros hired Ed Sedar for the position on Nov. 1, but he was allowed to return to the Brewers when offered the opportunity to rejoin their Major League coaching staff. Thompson will be a part of the Astros' expanded staff in Spring Training.

"Milt has a great grasp of the entire game of baseball, and this will be a great opportunity for him to make a positive impact on younger Astros players," his agent, Burton Rocks, said.

Thompson, 51, played for the Astros in 1994-95 as part of a 13-year career in which he had 1,029 hits with six different clubs, all in the NL. He hit .313 with six RBIs in the 1993 World Series and set a Phillies record with five RBIs in Game 4 against Toronto.

He has close to eight seasons of experience as a Major League coach, all with the Phillies (2003-10), as well as experience as a Minor League outfield/baserunning instructor. Thompson took the job as the Phillies' hitting coach in '05 and helped them finish second in the NL in scoring that year, first in '06 and '07, second in '08, and first again in '09. This past season the Phillies were second in the NL in runs scored behind Cincinnati, but Thompson was let go following a rough stretch offensively in the middle of the year.

In Thompson's first two seasons as a Major League coach for the Phillies (2003-04) he served as first-base coach while overseeing outfield play and baserunning. Prior to joining the Phillies' Major League staff, Thompson spent two seasons as their Minor League outfield/baserunning instructor ('01-02). He began his coaching career as Tampa Bay's Minor League outfield/baserunning instructor in 1997.

"Milt is certainly a quality guy that will bring a lot to our organization," Astros director of player development Fred Nelson said. "He has experience in both the Majors and Minors as an outfield and baserunning instructor. We've increased the amount of basestealers we have in the Minor Leagues, and we look forward to having Milt mentor and teach them what he knows. We also look forward to having him work with our young outfielders. We're excited to have him."

As an outfielder, Thompson compiled a .274 career average with 214 stolen bases in 280 attempts for a 76 percent success rate. Thompson hit .290 or better in six of his seasons and stole a career-high 46 bases in 1987. Thompson appeared in 101 games for the Astros from '94-95. He also played for the Braves, Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers and Rockies during his career.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.