D-backs’ new bench coach Jeff Banister complements manager Torey Lovullo
Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo wanted someone with a different personality to replace Luis Urueta as his new bench coach. That’s exactly who he got in Jeff Banister, a coach who also has previous bench coach experience.
“What I was looking for in a bench coach was somebody that fills my gaps and somebody that is not necessarily a lot like me,” Lovullo said. “I feel like he filled up the spaces in my personality perfectly.”
The Diamondbacks officially announced the hiring of Banister on Monday.
Banister is the latest hire after a multitude of coaches were released from their duties following Arizona’s 52-110 season. Arizona hired Joe Mather as its new hitting coach last week.
Arizona is still in the coaching market, as Lovullo said he is still looking for three more assistants and a pitching coach to join his staff for 2022.
The spaces Lovullo referred to are not just within his personality, but also the things that Banister notices during games.
“I sometimes get blinders on and I don’t see outside of my own little space,” Lovullo said. “I think he does a good job of that.”
Banister was previously with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a special assistant in baseball operations from 2019 until June 2020.
His last coaching position came from 2015 to 2018, when he served as the manager of the Texas Rangers. He led Texas to two American League West Division championships in 2015 and 2016. Texas lost in the American League Division Series to the Toronto Blue Jays in both seasons.
Banister’s first season in 2015 was his most successful as Texas manager. He helped the Rangers improve their record year-over-year by 21 games and won the 2015 AL Manager of the Year award.
Before being hired by Texas, Banister spent part of five seasons as Pittsburgh’s bench coach. His experience in that role was part of what convinced Lovullo to choose Banister in his search for his next bench coach.
“Eight to 10 years ago in Pittsburgh, they had a very young core of outstanding players and he helped developed those players,” Lovullo said. “That was something that was very intriguing to me.”
That young core included center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who earned four All-Star selections and the 2013 National League Most Valuable Player award while Banister was Pittsburgh’s bench coach.
The current composition of the Diamondbacks is very comparable to the one Banister coached with the Pirates. Arizona had four primary starting batters in 2021 who are 27-years-old or under. Two other utility players who played at least 90 games in 2021, Josh Rojas and Daulton Varsho, are also in that age range.
Three primary starting pitchers in 2021 held that same attribute.
Banister said players have to know coaches well to begin to take them seriously, particularly young players.
“Before you even start trying to hold anybody accountable, there’s a trust factor there,” Banister said. “There’s a lot of trust that is built up. You got to spend time with that player. You got to get to know them. They got to get to know you. There are some young players that you have to go a long ways to develop that trust … so that you can hold them accountable.”
Banister is looking forward to get back into coaching and help the Diamondbacks become more competitive.
“[It’s] just an incredible opportunity to join a group of coaches to help shape and mold some young athletes and help move this organization in a more prominent direction,” Banister said.