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Trash Pandas Announce 2023 Coaching Staff

2022 Southern League Manager of the Year Andy Schatzley returns to Rocket City
February 16, 2023

In conjunction with the Los Angeles Angels, the Rocket City Trash Pandas today unveiled the 2023 on-field coaching staff, led by returning Manager Andy Schatzley. “I’m honored to have the opportunity to return to the Trash Pandas and be a part of best-run affiliate in Minor League Baseball,” Schatzley said.

In conjunction with the Los Angeles Angels, the Rocket City Trash Pandas today unveiled the 2023 on-field coaching staff, led by returning Manager Andy Schatzley.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to return to the Trash Pandas and be a part of best-run affiliate in Minor League Baseball,” Schatzley said. “It’s a privilege to be a part of the Angels and this affiliate, and to be able to do it with this staff really excites me. I’m ready to get to work.”

The full on-field coaching staff for the 2023 Trash Pandas features:

  • Manager: Andy Schatzley (2nd season with Trash Pandas)
  • Hitting Coach: Sean Kazmar Jr. (1st season with Trash Pandas)
  • Pitching Coach: Michael Wuertz (3rd season with Trash Pandas)
  • Coach: Dann Bilardello (2nd season with Trash Pandas)
  • Strength & Conditioning Coach: David Robertson (1st season with Trash Pandas)
  • Athletic Trainer: T.D. Swinford (1st season with Trash Pandas)

“Everyone on our staff has a unique background and set of life experience,” Schatzley said. “The differences and the uniqueness of their backgrounds make them uniquely qualified to help our players. Everyone adds to what we do as a staff and I’m looking forward to working with them and learning from them.”

Andy Schatzley led the Trash Pandas to the playoffs in his first season at the Double-A level. Javier Sanchez/Rocket City Trash Pandas

The second manager in Trash Pandas history, Schatzley guided the team to the top of the Southern League standings in 2021, winning both first and second half North Division titles for the best record in the league at 81-57. The 2022 Trash Pandas marked the first time the Angels’ Double-A affiliate reached the postseason since the Arkansas Travelers accomplished the feat in 2015.

Following the season, Schatzley was named the 2022 Southern League Manager of the Year, becoming the first Trash Pandas manager to win the award. He debuted professionally with High-A Tri-City in 2021, coaching numerous future Trash Pandas standouts including Livan Soto, Ky Bush, and Kolton Ingram. He earned the 2021 Preston Gomez Award as the Angels’ Minor League Manager of the Year. In 2020, Schatzley was tabbed to manage the Rookie-Level Orem Owlz in his first professional season before the minor league season was cancelled. Schatzley joined the Angels after eight seasons in college baseball with Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas.

Sean Kazmar Jr. spent most of the last eight seasons of his playing career with Triple-A Gwinnett. Jamie Spaar/Gwinnett Stripers

Hitting Coach Sean Kazmar Jr. joins the Trash Pandas after making his coaching debut with the Arizona Complex League Angels last season. That job followed an 18-year-playing career, in which he appeared in over 1,700 professional games, including stints with the San Diego Padres in 2008 and the Atlanta Braves in 2021.

On April 17, 2021, Kazmar returned to the big leagues with Atlanta, pinch-hitting that day at Wrigley Field. That was his first MLB appearance since September 13, 2008 with San Diego, a span of 4,589 days, the biggest gap between MLB appearances for any player since 1949. Kazmar ended his professional career with a World Series ring after the Braves defeated the Astros in the fall classic.

Michael Wuertz has been instrumental in guiding the Trash Pandas' prospect-led pitching staff. Javier Sanchez/Rocket City Trash Pandas

Pitching Coach Michael Wuertz is back in 2023, the only member of the staff to remain with the Trash Pandas for their first three seasons. Under the direction of Wuertz, 10 former Trash Pandas pitchers made their MLB debut for the Angels over the past two seasons. The 2023 season will be Wuertz’s sixth season in the Angels organization, having previously worked with High-A Inland Empire and Rookie-Level Orem.

As a player, he pitched for eight seasons between the Chicago Cubs (2004-08) and Oakland A’s (2009-11), posting a 21-11 record and 11 saves with 444 strikeouts in 426 career relief outings. In 2009, he led all American League relievers with a career-high 102 strikeouts, becoming the third A’s reliever after Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers and Dennis Eckersley to fan 100 in a season.

Dann BIlardello brings over four decades of professional baseball experience back to Rocket City in 2023. Cristina Byrne-Sternberg/Rocket City Trash Pandas

Coach Dann Bilardello is back with a wealth of playing and coaching experience in his second season in the Angels organization. Playing mainly as a catcher from 1978-94, Bilardello hit .204 with 18 home runs and 91 RBI in 382 MLB games over eight seasons between the Cincinnati Reds (1983-85), Montreal Expos (1986), Pittsburgh Pirates (1989-90), and San Diego Padres (1991-92). During his career, Bilardello was a teammate of Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Andre Dawson, and Tony Gwynn.

After his playing career, Bilardello spent most of the past two decades as a Minor League manager, winning a Pioneer League Champinoship with the Great Falls Dodgers in 2002 in his debut season. Most recently, he managed High-A Palm Beach in the Cardinals’ system, winning a Florida State League title in 2017 and being named the league’s Manager of the Year in 2018.

Strength and Conditioning Coach David Robertson joins the Trash Pandas and the Angels organization after earning Northwest League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator of the Year honors in 2022 for High-A Hillsboro in the Arizona Diamondbacks system. Prior to his coaching career, Robertson spent five seasons as a professional baseball umpire from 2005-09, including a stint in the Southern League. He is also an Army Veteran.

Athletic Trainer T.D. Swinford joins the Angels after spending the previous 12 seasons with the Washington Nationals’ organization, including the last four seasons with Double-A Harrisburg. Before joining the Nationals organization, he worked in the Baltimore Orioles’ system for seven seasons. Swinford graduated from McKendree University in 2003 with a degree in athletic training and physical education.

Rounding out the Trash Pandas coaching staff will be Game Planning Strategist Alex Pimentel, Video Assistant Isom Ford, and Clubhouse Manager Bubba Hearn.

The Trash Pandas begin the 2023 season at home against Chattanooga on Thursday, April 6. First pitch at Toyota Field is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Single-game tickets go on sale on Saturday, February 25.