The Lehigh Valley coaching staff includes some reinforcements this year, at the expense of the local shore team, with former Phillies second baseman Mickey Morandini added to the Triple-A team's dugout personnel.

Mickey Morandini as a Phillie (Jay Floyd)

Taking on the newly created duty of bench coach, the 1996 National League All-Star hopes to use his third professional coaching assignment as a stepping stone back to the top level of the sport.

It's not just players that want to ascend upward in the ranks.

Having been the manager of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws for each of the past two seasons and the skipper of short-season Class A Williamsport prior to that, Morandini took on the new role with the IronPigs after advising the Phillies that he wanted to do whatever he could to move closer to the major leagues.

Joining incumbent manager Dave Brundage, hitting coach Sal Rende and pitching coach Ray Burris, Morandini is absorbing as much as he can and is slated to take on various levels of duties with Lehigh Valley. "I'm gonna be coaching some third base, some first base, I'll be in charge of the infielders and some base running, so it's gonna be a multitude of things that I'll do.  But, it's going well.  I'm looking forward to it," Morandini excitedly stated last week.

Mickey Morandini with the Iron Pigs (Jay Floyd)

As a member of the Triple-A staff, Morandini was among the coaches utilized for big league spring training this year as well.  He hopes to use his time around those at the top and the knowledge of his counterparts to his advantage.

"I learned a lot in big league camp this year," Morandini said.  "I really enjoyed that, being around the Bowa's and the Sandberg's and all those guys.  And I'm with, really, a veteran coaching group here.  They've been around a long time, so I'm just trying to learn as much as I can from them and trying to help these players stay in shape and do the right things and get them prepared so when the big club needs somebody, they're ready to go up."

Jay Floyd created and writes the website about area minor league clubs, like the Lakewood BlueClaws, from the inside. In the autumn of 2010 Jay began writing in a freelance capacity and joined as a minor league contributor and is also a correspondent and panelist on the show of the same name.