Newell returns to Brooklyn as new Cyclones manager
After a cold winter in Michigan, there is no question that Chris Newell is looking forward to the warmth of spring training at Port St. Lucie to prepare himself as the new manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones.
Last season, as the team’s bench coach, Newell, along with manager Luis Rivera, made a second-half run to the South Atlantic League’s semifinals for the team’s first playoff appearance since their 2019 championship season. With Rivera moving up to be the Mets’ minor league assistant infield coordinator, the top step of the dugout was offered to Newell.
For the 49-year-old from Waterford, Michigan, this will be his fourth season in the Mets’ minor league organization but not his first as a manager. From 2016 to 2019, Newell managed the Birmingham-Bloomfield Beavers of Michigan’s Independent League and won two consecutive championships in 2017 and 2018. In fact, during the 2016 season, former Cyclones manager Rich Donnelly (2011-2013) served as Newell’s bench coach for the Beavers.
As one of the most revered Cyclones managers, Donnelly had a profound effect on the young manager during that 2016 season and became a valuable baseball resource and a friend. Holding him in high regard, Newell proudly wears Donnelly’s number “45” in his honor as his baseball mentor. Conversely, Donnelly has always backed Newell during his three seasons in the Mets’ organization and saw him someday as a perfect fit for Brooklyn.
“Coming back to Brooklyn means so much to me,” Newell said. “Brooklyn and New York is baseball. Following in the Dodgers’ Brooklyn tradition is a special feeling and a great responsibility for sure. Being named manager to follow in the footsteps of some of the legendary 1986 Mets like Mookie, Tuff, HoJo and Wally Backman, not to mention my dear friend Rich Donnelly, is so surreal to me.”
Describing his managerial style, Newell said, “I like to think of myself as a players’ manager. The players have always been important to me and are number one. I’m aggressive on the bases and believe in putting pressure on the defense. We will pay close attention to detail as I believe we are products of our preparation.
“There are no little things in this game. Every pitch, every swing, every ground ball is a chance to get better and I expect that we will take advantage of those opportunities.”
Looking ahead to opening day in April, Newell said, “This season should be another great one in Brooklyn. There’s a strong possibility of us having some familiar faces from last year’s division-winning team, as well as some young outstanding players who experienced a championship at Port St. Lucie last year.”
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