Brewers name Johnny Narron hitting coach

The Brewers have found a hitting coach to replace the departed Dale Sveum, and it’s a familiar name.

Johnny Narron, a former Brewers Minor League coach and manager and the older brother of bench coach Jerry Narron, will fill the post vacated when Sveum was hired to manage the Chicago Cubs.

Johnny Narron, 60, spent four seasons as a coach in Milwaukee’s farm system from 2003-07, including a stint as manager at rookie-level Helena in 2004 and as hitting coach at Class A West Virgina and advanced Class A Brevard County in 2005.

“Johnny comes highly recommended by a number of experienced uniformed Major League personnel around baseball,” Brewers GM Doug Melvin said in a statement.  “He has been an instrumental part of a very productive offensive ball club in Texas over the last four seasons.  He is a hard-working individual who comes to the ballpark with a well-prepared plan each day.”

The Narron brothers worked together previously in Cincinnati, where Jerry was manager and Johnny was a video and administrative coach. He served as a sort of handler for troubled but talented outfielder Josh Hamilton, who was attempting a comeback from years lost to drug addiction. Their relationship dated to when Hamilton was 9 years old and played on a basketball team with Johnny Narron’s son.

They had been together ever since, with Johnny making the move with Hamilton in 2008 after a trade from the Reds to the Rangers and Hamilton emerging as one of baseball’s best hitters and the 2010 American League MVP.

“I’m with him and I’m for him 24 hours a day,” Narron said. “I’ve been very blessed to be a part of this whole trip. I’m able to be there and support a young man who has turned his life over to God. I love Josh. I know that Josh loves me. We respect each other. It’s a relationship that we both believe was meant to be.”

In 2011, Narron was officially the Rangers’ assistant hitting coach.

He will inherit a Brewers offense posted the National League’s second-best OPS (.750) last season and includes NL MVP Ryan Braun, but may be without first baseman Prince Fielder, who is a free agent for the first time. With Braun and Fielder batting back-to-back for the past five seasons, the Brewers ranked in the league’s top five in runs scored four times.

The Brewers announced earlier this month that the rest of manager Ron Roenicke’s staff had signed contracts to return in 2012: Narron, pitching coach Rick Kranitz, third base coach Ed Sedar, first base coach Garth Iorg, bullpen coach Stan Kyles and outfield instructor and “eye in the sky” John Shelby.

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