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Auckland Tuatara make key signings

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Auckland Tuatara have re-signed manager Stephen Mintz, hitting coach Darren Bragg and key local players Andrew Marck and Te Wera Bishop for the 2022-23 Australian Baseball League season.

Fresh off confirming the club would sit out the upcoming season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Auckland franchise has taken steps to ensure their team leaders have been locked in for the club’s return in 18 months.

Mintz was the club’s inaugural manager and led the Tuatara to the Northeast Division title and a playoff appearance in 2019-20 before the onset of the COVID outbreak.

The former Major League pitcher is a minor league coach with the Texas Rangers and has been a key part of the franchise’s growth since its inception.

While disappointed not to be able to lead the team this summer, Mintz has committed to finishing what he started with the Tuatara.

"COVID has been a real pain and had a big impact on baseball all over the world," Mintz said. "While it would be great to be back playing this season, it is just too risky given the current climate.

"I am only too keen to remain with the Tuatara and to continue the journey we’ve been working on for a few seasons now.

"I have 18 months to assemble a roster that can win the Claxton Shield and am already planning this far out."

Bragg, who played in the Big Leagues from 1994-2004 with nine different clubs, has also confirmed his return having spent the first two seasons in club history serving as the hitting coach.

He is highly regarded by players.

"I have loved my time with the Tuatara and can’t wait to get back out to New Zealand," Bragg said.

"We have something special brewing there and I think we are all looking forward to getting back on the diamond next year."

Marck enjoyed a break-out campaign in 2019-20, leading the league in hitting for much of the season and earning the ABL Fans Choice Award.

The popular slugger was quick to commit to his local team.

"I only have ambitions of playing for the Tuatara and while it sucks not to be out there playing this summer it just gives me longer to prepare for next season," Marck said.

"It was a major thrill to play professional baseball in front of my friends and family and I can’t wait for that opportunity again in 18 months."

Catcher Bishop is considered a real team leader of the Tuatara and someone that sets high standards for those around him.

The Wellingtonian said it wasn’t a tough call deciding to stay with the Tuatara.

"I love playing for the Tuatara and never considered anything else," Bishop explained. "Hopefully these 18 months pass quickly and we can be out there competing again in no time.

"I look forward to being part of what the club is building, including some of their plans for this summer as we look to grow the game and give back to baseball fans in New Zealand."

Auckland Tuatara chief executive Regan Wood hailed the signings as key drivers as the franchise plots the return to the league.

"All four of these guys have been instrumental in what we have done from the birth of this franchise," Wood said.

"They are passionate about our ballclub and will help us take the necessary steps to putting together a campaign where we can win the Claxton Shield in 2022-23."

Wood confirmed the club is working on some initiatives at home this summer and said further announcements are likely in the next month or two.

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