The Royals announced first base coach Rusty Kuntz will not join the team, due to concerns over the coronavirus, and will be replaced by Damon Hollins. Kuntz had stepped aside as first base coach late in the 2017 season due to lingering effects from cataract surgery, but was set to return this season once that was corrected. However, the 65-year old agreed not to rejoin the staff this year after consulting with Dayton Moore and trainer Nick Kenney, over concerns he is at a higher health risk of contracting the coronavirus due to his age.
The 46-year old Hollins was a four-year Major Leaguer with the Braves, Dodgers, and Devil Rays, before spending a year playing in Japan, and finishing his career with one season in the Royals’ organization, playing for Omaha. Hollins is in his eleventh season with the organization as a coach, previously serving as a hitting coach at Kane County, Burlington, Wilmington, and Idaho Falls, and was set to be the Coordinator of Outfield, Base Running and Bunting this season.
Mitch Maier, who served as the first base coach in each of the last two seasons, had moved to the front office to serve as Director of Baseball Operations.
Kuntz is not the first coach to be sidelined this season over concerns from the coronavirus. The Twins re-assigned bullpen coach Bob McClure and coach Bill Evers, both of whom are over 65 years of age, to an advisory role that will not have them traveling with the team. Braves first base coach Eric Young, who is just 53, has decided to opt out of coaching this season over coronavirus concerns. Kuntz will still serve the Royals in an advisory role, observing Royals games and practices from a distance.