Machemer takes over as manager

When the Augusta GreenJackets take the field in April to defend their South Atlantic League championship, they'll do so with almost an entirely new coaching staff.

Lipso Nava will return as hitting coach for a second season, but the rest of the staff will be new.

Dave Machemer, a 57-year-old, veteran minor league manager, will lead the GreenJackets in 2009 with help from Nava, pitching coach Steve Kline and trainer James Petra.

"I'm thrilled. I really am," Machemer said. "Last year was a little different for me, and I'm happy to be getting back into the hands-on, day-to-day routine of managing. I think I'm better at that."

Machemer, who will begin his 18th season as a minor league manager this spring, has served as a scout for the San Francisco Giants for portions of the past two seasons after being reassigned from his position as manager of the Double-A Connecticut Defenders midway through the 2007 season.

The 2007 Defenders were 41-58 and in last place in the Eastern League when Machemer was reassigned, but he came back in 2008 to manage the Arizona League Giants to a rookie ball championship.

Machemer said he could be reunited with many of the players on last season's rookie ball team.

"I'm going to have some of those guys, and I'm looking forward to it," he said. "But it's going to be tough to top last year's team."

The GreenJackets have reached the postseason each of the past three years highlighted by last season's 93-50 record and SAL Championship. Andy Skeels, last year's GreenJackets manager, has been promoted to manage the Advanced-A San Jose Giants.

Kline, an 11-year Major League Baseball pitching veteran, will take his first shot as a pitching coach this spring. The 36-year old former reliever played Triple-A ball in the Philadelphia Phillies organization last season.

Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or billy.byler@augustachronicle.com.

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