Spring Training Around Corner: Tony D Back w OKC

Oklahoma City, Okla. – The Oklahoma City RedHawks, Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, have announced the field staff for the 2012 season, including the return of manager Tony DeFrancesco.

Burt Hooton will return for his second season as RedHawks pitching coach, while Leon Roberts joins the Astros organization as hitting coach for Oklahoma City in 2012.

Tony DeFrancesco enters his 17th season as a Minor League manager, and his 26th season as a player, coach or manager in professional baseball. He managed the 2011 RedHawks to a 68-75 overall record, including a strong finish with an 18-12 record in the month of August.

Prior to joining the Astros organization, DeFrancesco spent seven seasons (2003-07, 2009-10) at the helm of the Sacramento River Cats with one Triple-A Championship, three Pacific Coast League Championships and six Pacific Coast League Pacific Southern Division titles. He also has Major League coaching experience after serving as the Oakland Athletics’ third base coach in 2008.

Pitching coach Burt Hooton returns for his second season with Oklahoma City and eighth consecutive season as the organization’s Triple-A affiliate. In addition, Hooton was the Astros Major League pitching coach for parts of five seasons (2000-04). Hooton led the RedHawks pitching staff to the fifth-best team ERA in the PCL during 2011 (4.63), while OKC finished with the third-lowest home run total (135) and fifth-lowest walk total in the league (506).

Hooton enjoyed a 15-year Major League career with the Chicago Cubs (1971-75), Los Angeles Dodgers (1975-84) and Texas Rangers (1985). On April 16, 1972, in his fourth Major League start, Hooton threw a no-hitter for the Chicago Cubs against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Corpus Christi, Texas native finished his Major League career with a 151-136 (.526) record with 1,491 strikeouts over 2,652 innings. Over 11 career postseason games, Hooton was 6-3 with a 3.17 ERA, including the 1981 postseason, in which Hooton was 5-1 with a 0.82 ERA in five starts for the World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Hooton is still considered one of the greatest pitchers in collegiate baseball history after earning first-team All-America honors in three consecutive seasons (1969-71) at the University of Texas. His dominating career numbers in Austin included a 35-3 record and 1.14 ERA.

Leon Roberts joins the Astros organization in 2012 as RedHawks hitting coach after spending the past five consecutive seasons and 13 seasons overall in the Atlanta Braves organization, including four seasons as Minor League hitting instructor. Roberts also spent six seasons (2001-06) as hitting coordinator in the Cincinnati Reds organization. In addition, he was Major League hitting coach for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for two seasons (1999-2000). Roberts also has a career Minor League managerial record of 414-425 (.493) with the Detroit (1985-88) and Atlanta (1992-95) organizations.

Roberts played parts of 11 Major League seasons as an outfielder with the Detroit Tigers (1974-75), Houston Astros (1976-77), Seattle Mariners (1978-80), Texas Rangers (1981-82), Toronto Blue Jays (1982) and Kansas City Royals (1983-84). The former University of Michigan outfielder posted a career .267 average with 78 home runs (including a 22-home run season in 1978 with Seattle), and 328 RBI.

Athletic trainer Mike Freer returns for his 23rd season in the Astros organization, his 16th at the Triple-A level and his second season with Oklahoma City. Strength and Conditioning coach Gary McCoy returns for his second season with the RedHawks.

The RedHawks open the 2012 season on Thursday April 5 at 7:05 p.m. against the Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals) at RedHawks Field at Bricktown. Group and season tickets are on sale now by phone at (405) 218-1000 or online at http://www.okcredhawks.com.

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