MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' Minor League staffing assignments, unveiled Monday, include new managers at their top two affiliates and the return to full-time duty of popular hitting coach Al LeBoeuf, who spent most of the past two seasons fighting cancer.
LeBoeuf, 54, will serve on the Rookie-level Arizona Brewers' staff. He was the hitting coach at Triple-A Nashville in May 2012, when, during an off-day on the golf course, he began experiencing cramping in his calves. The seemingly innocuous nuisance turned out to be serious: a rare and potentially fatal neurological disorder called POEMS syndrome that was caused by a cancerous spot on his left hip.
When LeBoeuf discussed his condition with MLB.com last spring, he was one of about 200 such cases in the world.
"Two hundred and one with me," he said at the time. "What it does, it 'unwraps' the nerves that are usually wrapped tight, and everything goes numb."
If untreated, POEMS syndrome can be fatal because it spreads through the body to vital organs. LeBoeuf's condition was contained just below his knees, and also affected his left thumb.
He eventually had to leave coaching and was confined to a wheelchair at home in Tampa, Fla., tended to by his wife Laura and son Mac. In September, he stood for the first time in weeks. By the time the Brewers reported for Spring Training, LeBoeuf was able to amble around with crutches on his arms and braces on his legs. By season's end, he was walking with a cane.
Now, he is back to work on a full-time basis. LeBoeuf will work with in Arizona with manager Nestor Corredor, pitching coach Steve Cline and athletic trainer Greg Barajas.
At the other affiliates:
• Triple-A Nashville's staff, as previously announced by that club, will be led by organizational newcomer Rick Sweet, a 24-year veteran of Minor League managing with a 1,588-1,520 career record. The rest of the Sounds' staff returns intact, including hitting coach Bob Skube, pitching coach Fred Dabney, athletic trainer Aaron Hoback and strength and conditioning specialist Andrew Emmick.
• Double-A Huntsville also has a new manager in Carlos Subero, who has managed 13 Minor League seasons, including the last five in the Dodgers organization. Last season, he led Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga to the California League playoffs. Pitching coach Chris Hook, hitting coach Sandy Guerrero, athletic trainer Steve Patera and strength and conditioning specialist Nate Dine round out the staff for the Stars, who will play their final season in Huntsville, Ala., before moving to Biloxi, Miss., for the 2015 season.
• The Class A Advanced Brevard County Manatees will be led by third-year manager Joe Ayrault, with two new coaches. Pitching coach Dave Chavarria spent the previous two seasons in the same role at Class A Wisconsin, and coach Reggie Williams previously served as roving outfield and baserunning coordinator for the past four seasons. Another coach, Ned Yost IV, is back for his third season at Brevard County, and athletic trainer Tommy Craig and strength and conditioning specialist Jonah Mergen also return.
• Appleton, Wis., Native Matt Erickson is back for his fourth season as manager of his hometown Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and will work with new pitching coach Elvin Nina and new coaches Chuckie Caufield and Kenny Dominguez. Nina and Caufield coached at Helena in 2013 and Dominguez coached at Huntsville last season. Jeff Paxson returns for his fifth season as athletic trainer at Wisconsin and his 21st season in the organization. Mike Hoffman is in his first season as strength and conditioning specialist.
• At Rookie-level Helena, 2013 Pioneer League Manager of the Year Tony Diggs returns as manager with a new pitching coach in Rolando Valles, a former Minor League pitcher who spent six seasons as the Brewers' Latin liaison. Former Brewers outfielder Jason Dubois joins the staff as a coach following a season in the same position with Rookie-level Arizona. Luke Greene enters his first season as athletic trainer and Tim Gifford joins Helena's staff as strength and conditioning coordinator.
• The entire staff of the Rookie Dominican Summer League Brewers is returning intact, including manager Jose Pena, pitching coach Jose Nunez, assistant pitching coach Geraldo Obispo and coaches Luis De Los Santos, Victor Estevez and Joan Abreu. Athletic trainer Adrian Ramonand strength and conditioning coordinator Russell McCarthy also return.
• Also, the Brewers have hired former big league outfielder Jeremy Reed to serve as Minor League hitting coordinator, and have added Mark Dewey as an assistant pitching coordinator. Dewey spent the past two seasons as pitching coach at Brevard County, and will give the Brewers a complement to pitching coordinator Rick Tomlin.