Matt Quatraro (pictured, right) has been hired to be a part of the Cleveland Indians coaching staff. Photo courtesy Bowling Green Hot Rods
Matt Quatraro, a member of the 1992 Schenectady (now Amsterdam) Mohawks was recently named the Cleveland Indians Major League assistant hitting coach. Quatraro, a Bethlehem graduate, played for current Mohawks President Brian Spagnola in ’92 while attending Old Dominion. Now 40, Matt has spent the past 18 years with the Tampa Bay Rays as a player, manager, coach and hitting coach. He will assist hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo, who completed his first year on the job this past season as part of manager Terry Francona’s coaching staff. Quatraro was also inducted into the Mohawks Hall of Fame in 2007.
The Rays selected Quatraro in the eighth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in 1996. He played seven seasons, reaching Class AAA Durham in 2002. He managed in Tampa Bay’s minor league system from 2006 through 2009 after beginning his coaching career in 2004.
Quatraro had been the Rays minor league hitting coordinator since 2010.
The Indians are one of several teams in the big leagues to use two hitting coaches. How do two coaches deliver the same message?
"I've talked with Ty about it," said Quatraro. "I think it will be a work in progress. Ty wants it to be a partnership not a a hierarchy. The key is communication so we have one voice. The worst thing you want to do is cause confusion by telling the hitters different things."
For years baseball teams have carried two pitching coaches, one for the starters and a bullpen coach for the relievers. A hitting coach must deal with 12 to 14 hitters depending on the construction of the roster.
Throw in meetings, deciphering scouting reports, studying the latest findings from the Indians' analytical departmet and working with struggling hitters and job can be taxing. It's one of the reasons you rarely see a hitting coach during the season when he's not moving in one direction or another.
"I think this is how the position of hitting coach has evolved," said GM Chris Antonetti. "It's not just about spending time in the batting cage.”
“ He's actually a guy that we've always admired from afar," Antonetti said of Quatraro. "We've overlapped with him in other developmental leagues that our teams have been in. ... He's always been a guy that we've heard great things about. The more work we did, the more he stood out as a potential candidate for us. He brings a lot to the table.""
Said Quatraro, "If you think about it, if you're working with 12 to 13 hitters on a daily basis, each guy could need between 30 to an hour of time hitting in the cage. To be able to have two coaches to give the players a chance to succeed is a great thing."
Quatraro and Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway were drafted in the same year by the Rays. Callaway was selected in the seventh round, one round ahead of Quatraro.