The Los Angeles Dodgers are in the midst of a euphoric championship celebration, but there is news that a major figure from the organization will not be returning to help the club try to defend that title next season.
Cody Stavenhagen and Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic are reporting that Dodgers’ first base coach George Lombard has been hired as the new bench coach next season for the Detroit Tigers and will serve under their newly hired manager A.J. Hinch.
The Tigers had previously interviewed Lombard for that open managerial position earlier this offseason before ultimately opting for Hinch.
Given that Lombard had received managerial consideration from another team this offseason, there already was a strong possibility that he’d leave the Dodgers for an expanded role elsewhere.
This is an interesting development, though, most glaringly because Hinch was the manager of the Houston Astros when the Dodgers played them in the 2017 World Series.
Hinch was suspended for the entirety of the 2020 season for his role in the sign-stealing scandal the Astros participated in during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Lombard now being the right-hand man for the manager that previously led a team that essentially cheated Lombard’s squad of a championship is certainly awkward.
Lombard wouldn’t have taken the job with Hinch if there was any irreparable tension between the two of them, though, but it’s still worth pointing out.
Lombard has been the first base coach for the Dodgers since 2016, and this promotion with another organization is well deserved.
Lombard has an extremely interesting background. His mom marched alongside Martin Luther King but was tragically killed in a car accident when George was just 10 years old.
His grandfather was the former senior dean at Harvard Business School. He meant a tremendous deal to George, illustrated by how George retrieved the first home run ball he hit in Boston as a member of the Red Sox and signed it for his grandfather.
It wasn’t always clear that Lombard was going to have a career in baseball, as he was a heavily-recruited running back coming out of high school.
The All-American originally committed to playing football for the University of Georgia but opted to pursue baseball when the Atlanta Braves drafted him in the second round in 1994.
He played six seasons in the Majors from 1998-2000, 2002-2003, and 2006, appearing for the Braves, Tigers, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and Washington Nationals.
Before serving as the Dodgers first base coach, Lombard worked in the Red Sox farm system as a manager and coach and was also a roving outfield coordinator for both the Red Sox and Braves.
While it’s nice if everyone from a championship team returns, it’s just not the reality of the sports world, as new opportunities inevitably present themselves to people responsible for helping make that championship happen.
Here’s wishing all the best to Lombard in his new role as bench coach for the Tigers. Everyone connected to the Dodgers thanks him for all he did for the organization.