The Winnipeg Goldeyes made franchise history on Tuesday with the announcement that Fish first-base coach Rudy Arias will be joining the Baltimore Orioles coaching staff for the 2011 season.
The move marks the first time in team history that a member of the Goldeyes has gone directly from Winnipeg to the major leagues.
Arias, 53, spent the past three seasons with the Fish and will be going to Baltimore to throw batting practice, catch bullpen sessions, take on some administrative roles and serve as the club's only Spanish-speaking coach.
Arias said the deal came together with lightning speed in the past week.
"It really came together very quickly," Arias said by phone from his Florida home. "I had no idea this was coming until I got a call last week."
Arias previously spent 11 years in the Orioles organization as a coach and also worked with Buck Showalter when the O's manager was the skipper in New York in the mid-1990s.
And then there was the ability Arias will have to speak to some of the O's players that no other coach on the O's staff will have this season.
"This really has much as anything to do with the fact I speak Spanish," Arias said. "They really need someone like that right now."
While leaping at the opportunity to go back to Major League Baseball -- "Not too many guys get a second chance like this," he says -- Arias says he will forever have a soft spot for his time in Winnipeg.
"When I got released in 2007 and had nowhere else to go, (Goldeyes manager Rick Forney) gave me an opportunity. I will always owe him and the Goldeyes a debt for helping me at that time.
"Like everyone who goes to Winnipeg, I can't say enough about how they treated me and the other coaches and the players and the manager. And the fans? I really couldn't say enough about the fans up there."
Arias previously worked on the Orioles coaching staff from 1997-2007. He also won a World Series as the bullpen coach for the New York Yankees in 1996.
Goldeyes general manager Andrew Collier said Tuesday morning the team only learned of Arias's departure "in the past few days" and a search for a replacement is now underway.
"It's going to be hard to fill that role and find a replacement for a coach who had all that major league experience and was a World Series champion," Collier said.
Arias was a former catcher and Collier said the work he did with the Goldeyes catchers -- first with Dustin Richardson and then later with Luis Alen -- was a big part of why both men moulded into the premier players at their position in the Northern League.
Arias -- a native of Cuba -- was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 1977 and spent three years in that organization.
He eventually turned to coaching high school baseball in Miami and that's what he was doing when the expansion Florida Marlins hired him in 1993.
Making it to the big leagues
Rudy Arias is the seventh member of the Winnipeg Goldeyes to move on to Major League Baseball. But Arias does hold a couple of firsts:
-- He's the first Goldeyes coach to move to the big leagues;
-- He's the first Goldeyes member to go directly from Winnipeg to the majors;
-- He's the first member of the Goldeyes since 2003 to make the move.
Here's a list of the other Goldeyes who've made the big move over the years, the year they did it and the major-league team they eventually played with:
Mike Cather, 1995 (Atlanta)
Jeff Zimmerman, 1997 (Texas)
Jeff Sparks, 1998 (Tampa Bay)
Brian Myrow, 2001 (Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego)
Bobby Madritsch, 2002 (Seattle)
George Sherrill, 2003 (Seattle)