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Ex-Star tapped as 51s’ manager

Former Las Vegas Stars catcher Mike Basso has been named the 19th manager in the 26-year history of the city’s Triple-A franchise.

Basso, 44, who spent the past two years as the Toronto Blue Jays’ coordinator of minor league instruction, replaces Syracuse Chiefs manager Doug Davis.

Toronto switched its Triple-A affiliation from Syracuse to the 51s last month after the Los Angeles Dodgers ended an eight-year stay in Las Vegas to move their Triple-A club back to Albuquerque, N.M.

Davis guided the Chiefs, Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate for the past 31 years, to a 69-73 record last year, their eighth straight losing season.

Basso, a native of Texas who played baseball for the University of Houston, was an 18th-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 1986 and played parts of four seasons (1988, 1990, 1992, 1993) for the Stars before injuries ended his playing career in 1994.

He managed in the minors for the Padres from 1995 to 2000 and for the Blue Jays from 2003 to 2006, earning Manager of the Year awards at the Rookie, Class-A and Double-A levels and compiling a career record of 692-644.

Basso, married with three sons, has an 18-14 record in the playoffs and guided the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats to the Eastern League title in 2004, when the team went 84-57.

He also managed one season at Triple-A Syracuse, in 2006, when the Chiefs finished 64-79.

Basso said he is “excited to get back to managing,” especially in Las Vegas.

“I’m just extremely happy about it. It’s a great opportunity and a comfortable place for me because I’ve been there,” he said. “A lot of people I’ve had for longtime friends are still there, including (51s president) Don Logan, and I’m really happy to get back there.”

Logan said he’s excited to have Basso back as a manager.

“This is a great first step to build a strong bond between the Blue Jays and 51s,” Logan said. “(Basso) has a solid baseball reputation and has done a fine job as a member of the Toronto organization.”

Basso batted .246 in 537 games in nine minor league seasons and hit .253 in 34 games for the Stars in 1993.

“I remember how pretty the ballpark was and how good the front office was, and I really liked the core group of season-ticket holders. They were positive,” Basso said. “Things just run well there, and it’s an outstanding place to be.”

Basso will be assisted by pitching coach Dave LaRoche and batting coach Ken Joyce, both of whom filled the same roles the past two years for the Fisher Cats.

LaRoche, 60, pitched 14 years in the big leagues for five teams and was a two-time All-Star. He is the father of Pittsburgh Pirates infielders Adam and Andy LaRoche, a former 51s player.

Joyce, 43, has been in Toronto’s organization for the last five years, the first three as a manager.

Basso said he hopes to develop players and win at the same time.

“We have to have players ready for the major leagues when the major league club calls,” he said. “We want to win at the major league level, and we want to win at the Triple-A level, too. We have to find a mix for both and keep making people better.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354.

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