(Photo courtesy of Bert Hindman)
By: AJ Cassavell
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Padres named Lance Burkhart as manager of the Class A Lake Elsinore Storm on Monday, five days after former skipper Francisco Morales resigned.
Burkhart had spent last year and the early part of this season as hitting coach for another Padres affiliate, the Fort Wayne TinCaps of the Low A Midwest League. There, he spent time working with many of the same players currently on the Lake Elsinore roster.
"This is a group that he has a lot of familiarity with, having spent time with them in the past," said Padres farm director Sam Geaney. "... What's impressed us with Lance is his ability to adapt and fit in with whichever staff and players that he's working with."
Burkhart takes over for interim manager Tony Tarasco, who is the organization's outfield and baserunning coordinator in player development. Tarasco took the reins last Thursday after Morales unexpectedly resigned.
The Padres did not comment on the specifics of Morales' resignation, but Geaney said, "There was not one incident in particular that brought this on. He just decided for his career, going forward, that it was time to step aside."
Morales served a one-week suspension at the start of the season because of an undisclosed incident during the offseason, which reportedly occurred at the Padres' academy in the Dominican Republic. It is unclear whether Morales' resignation was related to that occurrence.
As for Burkhart, he played in the Minor Leagues from 1997-2009, spending time in the Expos, Brewers and Rangers organizations. Burkhart reached as high Triple-A on multiple occasions, before spending the last five seasons of his playing career in independent ball. His brother, Morgan, played three seasons in the big leagues and is currently the hitting coach for the Padres' Triple-A El Paso affiliate.
After three seasons as a coach with the Lancaster Barnstormers, Lance Burkhart spent the 2014 season as manager of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, in the independent Atlantic League. The Blue Crabs went 68-72.
"My understanding in what I do know of him as a manager from that time is we'll see a little more assertiveness, a little more aggressiveness" Geaney said. "As the position requires, he'll have a little stronger personality, a little stronger voice [than he had as hitting coach]."