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Rusty Kuntz returns, Tony Pena, Jr. joins Royals coaching staff

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Boston Red Sox v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Rusty Kuntz will rejoin the Royals’ coaching staff, as the Royals announced their 2021 coaching staff. Kuntz will serve as first base coach, a position he held from 2012 to 2017. He left the coaching staff in 2018 due to vision problems, but was set to return following surgery, only to miss the 2020 season due to the pandemic.

Joining the staff will be former shortstop Tony Pena, Jr., who played for the team from 2007-2009. Pena was tabbed to manage the Burlington Royals last year before the season was cancelled, and he spent two seasons as manager of the Arizona Summer League team before that. It is unclear what his exact role will be with the Major League club this year. Pena is the son of former Royals manager Tony Pena, who skippered the team from 2002 to 2005.

The rest of the coaching staff will look the same as last year. Pedro Grifol, who interviewed for the managerial job in Detroit this off-season, will instead return as bench coach. Hitting coach Terry Bradshaw and pitching coach Cal Eldred will each return for their third year with the club. Vance Wilson will begin his second year as third base coach after previously serving as bullpen coach and minor league manager. Larry Carter will serve as bullpen coach, and John Mabry rounds out the coaching staff for manager Mike Matheny, having worked with infielders last year.

Rafael Belliard, who served as an infield coach last year, will return to his position as a Special Assistant to the General Manager. Damon Hollins, who served as first base coach in Kuntz’s absence, returns as a minor league instructor.