Even if you’re a big-time Major League Baseball fan, you may not have heard of Jayce Tingler prior to this season. The moderate baseball fan probably still doesn’t know who he is. Tingler has played a prominent role in helping the San Diego Padres return to the postseason, but who the heck is he?
The San Diego Padres are returning to the playoffs
The 2020 Major League Baseball season has been a strange one. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced teams to play a limited regular-season schedule. The designated hitter was used by both leagues. Seven-inning doubleheaders were the norm. Sixteen teams qualified for the postseason.
One of those 16 teams to reach the playoffs was the San Diego Padres. For the first time in 14 seasons, the Padres made the cut. On the field, they showed they belonged. Off the field, it was a struggle. The Padres, who finished 37-23 and in second place in the NL West, had two games postponed because of COVID-19, and three were moved because of fires.
Throughout it all, the Padres have a second life. They grinded through the wacky season and will play their postseason opener Wednesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals. “Everybody has struggled, everybody has put in the good work,” said shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. “We just have each other’s back and we find a way to win games.”
Who is Jayce Tingler?
The San Diego Padres have been led by their young shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and veteran Manny Machado. The team has a nice mix of talented young players and experienced vets, including Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer, Tommy Pham, and Mitch Moreland. The pitching staff has been anchored by Zack Davies (7-4, 2.73). Newly-acquired Mike Clevenger has been strong (2-1, 2.84) since his trade from the Cleveland Indians.
In the dugout, the team is led by first-year manager Jayce Tingler. Tingler is far from a household name having never played nor managed in the big leagues prior to this season. The 5-foot-8, 155-pound Tingler was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays and played four years in the minors. He got a cup of coffee at the Double-A level. Tingler played 25 games in 2006 with Texas Rangers affiliate, the Frisco Roughriders. He finished his career with a .271 batting average.
In 2007, Tingler was approached to manage a Texas Rangers team in the Dominican Republic. He managed the Dominican Summer League Rangers to first-place finishes in 2008 and 2009. He then became the manager of the Arizona Rangers of the Arizona League (rookie level). Tingler then worked his way into the front office of the Rangers, eventually becoming an assistant general manager. He moved from the front office to the coaching staff as he became the interim bench coach when manager Jeff Bannister was fired in 2018. In October of 2019, he was named manager of the San Diego Padres.
Why Jayce Tingler?
San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller has some scratching their heads when it was announced that the team had hired Jayce Tingler to be its next manager. The team had been very active in the free-agency market and then decided to go with Tingler, who has no managerial experience at the big-league level.
“Jayce has extensive experience in virtually every aspect of coaching, player development and baseball operations. Our entire group believes that he’s the right person to lead our talented roster,” Padres general manager AJ Preller said in a statement after the hiring. “His multi-faceted skillset, combined with his ability to develop talent and help players reach their potential at the Major League level, were key factors in his selection as our manager. We are excited for Jayce to build upon the foundation we’ve laid in San Diego as we set our sights on October baseball.”
While Preller took a shot with Tingler, the manager has come through in a big way. He’s brought the Padres to where they haven’t been in 14 seasons – the playoffs. “I’m just so happy for the players and the staff, setting up a goal at the beginning of the year, throughout the offseason,” Tingler told The San Diego Union-Tribune. “There have been a lot of challenges in 2020, as everybody knows. I think about how proud I am of the group — the staff, the players — and understand how much discipline and sacrifice it has taken to get to this point.”