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Northwest Arkansas Naturals announces technical staff for 2022

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SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA / KFTA) – The Kansas City Royals announced 2022 field staff for their minor league affiliates on January 14, and the big league club has named Chris Widger as Northwest Arkansas Naturals field manager. Widger, who led the High-A Quad Cities River Bandits to the High-A Central Championship in 2021, will become the sixth manager in the franchise’s history.

Widger, 50, is entering his fourth managerial season with the Kansas City Royals organization. He led the Kansas City High-A affiliate to a record 77-41 in 2021. He was recognized as High-A Central Manager of the Year and Baseball America’s 2021 Minor League Manager of the Year, the second minor league manager of the Royals to receive the Honor of Baseball America.

The former receiver began his managerial career with Rookie-level Burlington in 2019 and led the B-Royals to a decisive match 3 in the Appalachian League Championship Series after serving as the bench manager for the Wilmington Blue Rocks from 2016 to 2018. Prior to joining the Royals’ organization, Widger managed the Camden Riversharks independent league (Atlantic League) in 2015 and was their launch coach from 2012 to 2014.

Prior to directing, he played in the Major Leagues for parts of 12 seasons and won the 2005 World Series as a member of the Chicago White Sox. Widger was drafted in the third round of the 1992 Major League Draft by the Seattle Mariners and played for the Mariners (1995-1996, 2000), Montreal Expos (1997-2000), New York Yankees (2002), St. Louis Cardinals ( 2003), White Sox (2005-2006) and Baltimore Orioles (2006).

Joining Widger in northwest Arkansas will be throwing coach Derrick Lewis, strokes coach Abraham Núñez, assistant strokes coach Christian Colón and bench coach Mike Jirschele, while coach certified athletic Danny Accola and strength and conditioning coach CJ Mikkelsen will complement the Naturals’ field staff. Danny Helmer will once again be the clubhouse’s operations coordinator.

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