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OC Register: Angels bench coach Ray Montgomery brings a new perspective to dugout

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The early report on Angels bench coach Ray Montgomery is that he brings something to the table that Manager Joe Maddon hasn’t experienced.

“If there’s a player that I don’t know, a young guy, he knows where he’s from, what round he was drafted in, who his parents are,” Maddon said. “It’s amazing.”

That’s because Montgomery spent most of his 20-year post-playing baseball career working in amateur scouting. This is the first year that he’s been in uniform, which made him a surprising choice for what is generally considered to be the No. 2 spot on a major league coaching staff.

Angels general manager Perry Minasian said the addition of Montgomery to the staff over the winter was as much about Mike Gallego, the former bench coach, as it was about Montgomery.

Traditionally, the bench coach is like an assistant manager, helping the manager decide when to change pitchers or pinch hit or position the defense. In modern baseball, though, a bench coach spends much of his time before the game on a laptop, dealing with analytics and scouting reports and the lineup.

Gallego, a longtime major league infielder, was spending so much time sitting at a desk before games that he sometimes couldn’t even get onto the field to help the players, which the Angels believe is his strength. Gallego is now the major league field coordinator, so he can spend all of his time working with players, specifically the infielders.

To Montgomery, the administrative tasks are a perfect fit.

“For me, doing that stuff is second nature,” Montgomery said. “When you’re running a draft or you have a staff of people, you have to have that, because without it you just spin like a top.”

Montgomery, 52, is not just one of those khaki-wearing front office guys who has never played, though.

A former 13th-round pick out of Fordham, Montgomery reached the majors as an outfielder for brief stints with the Houston Astros in 1996, 1997 and 1998. He hit had 96 plate appearances in 47 games, producing a .638 OPS. He played from 1999 to 2001 in the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets organizations, although he didn’t reach the majors again.

“My career was short and not very productive, but that’s on the card so you can see that,” Montgomery quipped. “The good thing is there’s no video.”

After he was done playing, he knew he wanted to stay in the game, but he was starting a family, so he figured scouting would give him “a little better work-life balance.”

Montgomery began working as an area scout for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2002. He ascended to a regional crosschecker job with the Brewers, and then a four-year run as the scouting director for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He returned to the Brewers in 2015 for a job as a special assistant, in which he had a hand in all of the elements of building the Brewers’ roster.

Minasian hired Montgomery as a special assistant prior to the 2021 season, and he spent much of his time helping the Angels prepare for the draft and analyzing the players in the Angels’ farm system.

When the coaching staff was reconfigured last winter, Montgomery was moved from the front office to the coaches’ office.

“It’s just recharging the batteries in a different way,” Montgomery said. “When you’re watching the games up there you have less control over what happens, but you have the same interest. And you have the same concerns. You have the same hopes and questions as the game moves along. So down here, you just have a little better feel for what’s going on.”

Maddon, who scouted before going into an on-field role in player development with the Angels in the 1980s, said Montgomery’s front office history doesn’t detract from his ability to contribute in a room full of coaches who have been in uniform for years.

“He still came up as a player too,” Maddon said. “So we still have all of that, too. He’s a sharp guy. He’s very bright. He sees things too. He’s aware. He’s aware in advance. It’s almost like he’s done this before even though he hasn’t. He has that kind of acumen.”

Montgomery brings the perspective of a fringe player, so he said he understands how players can drive themselves crazy focusing on their spot on the roster rather than just their performance.

“I would spend hours figuring out the different combinations,” Montgomery said. “I’m trying to help these guys know it’s not part of their focus.”

He also can take some of the organizational and administrative pressure off the other coaches, letting them stay focused on baseball. He’s also helping to relay the analytical information to the players in whatever way they want it.

“We are empowering players with the best information to get them to be better,” Montgomery said. “It’s like putting high-octane gas in Ferraris.”


Angels (RHP Shohei Ohtani, 0-1, 1.93) at Rangers (RHP Dane Dunning, 0-0, 5.40), Thursday, 5:05 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM

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