Tolman ends tenure as Indians bench coach
Cleveland plans to shift Alomar to role alongside Acta next year
DETROIT -- Tim Tolman has decided the time has come to leave the Indians' bench.
On Wednesday, Cleveland announced that Tolman and the team mutually agreed that he would step down from his post as manager Manny Acta's bench coach. Tolman has Parkinson's disease and that played a role in his decision. He will transition into a baseball operations role with the organization.
"I think it's time," Tolman said. "There's some slowness of movement involved that wouldn't allow me to do some of the things that I want to do on a daily basis. My feeling is that it's time for me to step away, make sure that I'm getting the right treatment and that we keep our handle on it."
Sandy Alomar Jr. will be the Tribe's bench coach for the 2012 season, barring another development. It has been speculated that the White Sox have strong interest in interviewing Alomar for their managerial opening. On Tuesday, Alomar indicated that he was "definitely interested" in the position if Chicago reached out to him.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Alomar had not heard from the White Sox.
Acta said it will be strange not to have Tolman at his side on Cleveland's bench. Tolman was a Minor League manager of Acta's during their days in the Astros' organization. From 2007-08, Tolman served as a third-base coach when Acta was manager of the Nationals.
When Acta took over the Indians' managerial role prior to last season, Tolman was the first person he called while piecing together his staff for Cleveland. Their long friendship and working relationship will make Tolman's absense a bit odd for Acta.
Acta has always pictured Tolman being next to him.
"That was something that I envisioned since I started in the Minor Leagues," Acta said. "He's been my mentor throughout the Minor Leagues. He's a guy that when I was managing in the Minor Leagues, and I envisioned myself managing up here, I envisioned him being right next to me up until the end of my career.
"It's not going to be easy. He was the first guy I called for both managerial jobs that I have gotten already. I didn't envision it ending this way. It's going to be hard for me. He was a lot of help."
Tolman, 55, plans on meeting with Indians general manager Chris Antonetti next week in Cleveland to continue to map out what type of role he will fill from here on out for the Tribe. The only certainty at the moment is that Tolman will be in camp with the Indians during Spring Training.
Two springs ago, Tolman was not feeling well and he decided to head to the doctor to see what was ailing him. It was then that he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which has hindered his mobility and slowed him down in various ways. The health issue did not affect his mind -- only his body.
"The coaching staff has some other duties to do that he probably felt was hard on him." Acta said. "But he's still sharp, quick-witted and a quick thinker and all that. That didn't prevent him from helping me on the bench. I think he realized this is probably the best thing for him and his family."
Tolman is married with two sons and his new job will likely allow him to be at home more with his family. It will also allow him to properly manage the disease as much as he can. Tolman said he has been in and out of the Cleveland Clinic for the past two years and needs to take medication once a day to treat his condition.
He said the Tribe's improvement as a team this season made it easier to step aside.
"I have two families," Tolman said. "I have this family and my family at home. I have to take care of my wife, who's been great through this whole thing. I wouldn't be able to get through it like I did without her help.
"I felt like the body of work we had this year, with the way the team played, and Manny and I being together, I think that we did a great job."
As of right now, the Indians have not determined who will take over Alomar's role as the team's first-base coach. Acta indicated that he planned on meeting with Antonetti in Cleveland on Thursday to begin discussing such personnel decisions.
The rest of the Indians' coaching staff might remain intact, though pitching coach Tim Belcher and bullpen coach Scott Radinsky appear to be the only virtual locks to be back in 2012. Hitting coach Bruce Fields, who took over on an interim basis in mid-June, could be back next season as well.
Tolman said he hoped Alomar's new role might convince him to stay in Cleveland.
"I'm looking forward to Sandy getting the opportunity that he's going to get," Tolman said. "He's going to do a wonderful job. It's great that this position is open so we can keep him here."
Then again, the White Sox could come calling.
Chicago released Ozzie Guillen from his contract earlier this week, vacating the manager's chair. Alomar has no previous managing experience -- in the Minors or Majors -- but is highly respected throughout baseball. Last winter, Alomar interviewed for Toronto's open manager's job, which eventually went to John Farrell.
Alomar, who resides in Chicago and spent part of his 20-year playing career with the White Sox, has a good relationship with general manager Kenny Williams. It is believed that Alomar might be high on Williams' list of potential managers, and that would not surprise Acta in the least.
"Sandy's very talented," Acta said. "I think eventually he's going to end up being a big league manager. I think being a bench coach, it's a good step for him. He's very prepared. He's got passion for the game and he's one of those few gifted guys that not only was a very good player, but also has the passion and the willingness to put the time into preparing for his duties."
And if Chicago does reach out to Alomar?
"We would never get in the way of people moving forward in life," Acta said. "It's going to happen eventually, because he's a hot commodity in the game. He demonstrated that last year in the interview with the Blue Jays.
"That's something we can't control. Right now, [having Alomar as the bench coach] is our plan. If something better comes up for him, then he's got to do what he's got to do."
Prior to his job as Cleveland's bench coach, Tolman worked for the Indians as a Minor League field coordinator from 2003-06. He served as the Mariners' Minor League coordinator of instruction in 2009 before moving to the Indians when Acta was hired as manager.
Following a 12-year playing career that included stints with Houston and Detroit, Tolman worked in the Astros organization in various capacities for 14 years. His player-development experience includes working as a Minor League manager and later taking on amateur and professional scouting roles.
Tolman is looking forward defining his next role.
"I'll help out in any way I can," Tolman said.