Tribe taps Skinner for Double-A Akron

Tribe taps Skinner for Double-A Akron

Former Indians coach Joel Skinner is staying in the organization to take over as manager at Double-A Akron, one of two posts on the club filled Tuesday on its Minor League coaching staff.

Skinner, who spent the past nine years in Cleveland and served as Eric Wedge's third-base coach, will return to his roots as a skipper in the Indians' farm system. He'll succeed Mike Sarbaugh, who was promoted from Akron to manage at Triple-A Columbus next year.

Sarbaugh replaces Torey Lovullo, who was a finalist for the Indians' managerial opening before Manny Acta was hired. After Lovullo wasn't added to Acta's coaching staff, the Red Sox hired Lovullo on Monday to manage their Triple-A affiliate at Pawtucket, allowing him a new start in a different organization.

"It was a great relationship," Lovullo told the Cleveland Plain Dealer about his time in the organization, "and it will continue to be. There's no bitterness, no resentment. There is a little disappointment. We're all competitive, we all wanted the position.

"I'll miss the staff members I got to know daily in Spring Training. I'll miss my relationship with the players that I've watched grow up over the last three to seven years. It's time to open my eyes to a new direction."

Lovullo leaves a tough standard to follow, both as a Minor League manager and as a developer of talent. Starting in 2002 as a manager at Class A Columbus, Lovullo steadily climbed the Indians farm system to Class A Kinston, then Akron, and finally at Triple-A over the past four years with Buffalo and Columbus. He earned Manager of the Year honors from Baseball America in the Carolina League in 2004 and the Eastern League in '05.

Fortunately for the Indians, they have similarly successful skippers to follow. Sarbaugh was named Eastern League Manager of the Year this past season after leading Akron to an 89-53 record and a league title, his third as a Minor League skipper. He won league championships with Mahoning Valley in 2004 and Kinston in '06 before winning Manager of the Year honors in the Carolina League in '07.

Skinner, meanwhile, built his resume with success on the farm, managing six years at various levels and earning three Manager of the Year awards along with four first-place finishes. His 1998 season at Akron earned him recognition as USA Today Baseball Weekly's Minor League Manager of the Year, and his 2000 season at Buffalo earned similar honors from Baseball America and The Sporting News.

Skinner owns a 448-333 career record in the Minors. His Indians team went 35-41 down the stretch in 2002 after he was named interim manager to replace Charlie Manuel. This coming season will mark his 21st in the Indians organization as a player, coach, manager or instructor.

Jason Beck is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.