Mark Ellis will join former teammate Mark Kotsay, now the A’s bench coach, to instruct the A’s infield this spring
This is exciting news! My favorite Marks are back together again, for spring training at least and that is good enough for me because it means I will likely be able to catch a glimpse or two or more of both Mark Kotsay the A’s new bench coach and Mark Ellis who will be a guest instructor for the team during the spring.
Ellis and Kotsay’s careers with the Athletics overlapped from 2004 (although Ellis was injured for the entire season) to 2007. They were part of the team that defeated the Minnesota Twins in the American League Division Series in 2006, taking the A’s to the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers. They lost of course as almost everyone knows the A’s can’t seem to get past the Tigers in the postseason. Yet that 2006 team broke the curse of the first round and took the A’s farther than they had been in the postseason since 1992.
Ellis, still a fan favorite to this day, came up with the team as a rookie in 2002 and was a big part of the Athletics 2002 20-game win streak, which set an AL record. He was the A’s second baseman from 2002 until 2011 when he was traded to the Colorado Rockies. During his tenure with Oakland, Ellis hit .266/.331/.337. He was most impressive on defense however and he has been brought in to work with the middle infielders, the way Ron Washington has been working with A’s shortstop Marcus Semien for almost a year now. Ellis focus on working with Jed Lowrie who will be making the move to second base after playing mostly at shortstop and third base over the past few seasons.
“It works well timing-wise with Jed not playing the position in a while,” Manager Bob Melvin said. “Whenever you can have an elite defender like Mark come here and work with those guys, everybody benefits by it.”
Ellis played for 12 big league seasons – nine of them for the Athletics, he spent half a season with the Rockies, two with the Dodgers and his final season with the St. Louis Cardinals. Ellis retired with a .991 fielding percentage, fifth all-time among second basemen.
Melvin had nothing but praise for Ellis and excitement that he will be joining the coaching staff even if just for a short time. It appears likely that they would like to keep Ellis around longer but are planning to let him decide if he wants to coach and let him move in at his own pace.
“I had him a short time before he got traded [to Colorado in 2011], and it was very apparent that this is the kind of guy you’re gonna want in an organization if he wants to coach at whatever pace he wants to come back in,” Melvin said. “So we put that invitation out a while ago, and we’re lucky to be able to get him into camp and see where we go with it.”
Both “Marky E” and “Marky K” as I used to use to distinguish them when they were on the Athletics together were both fan favorites but no one more than Ellis. As fans we can only hope that he will one day take on a more permanent role within the organization but for now it’s wonderful to have both Ellis and Kotsay back!
Ellis is expected to join the A’s at camp on March 6th (which just happens to be the day I arrive in Phoenix!) 🙂