WAILUKU - Brendan Sagara's 2012 destination will be Jamestown, N.Y., not Maehara Stadium.
Sagara signed to be the third manager of Na Koa Ikaika Maui on Dec. 2, but when an unexpected chance to work in affiliated baseball came up in the last week, he said he could not pass it up.
The Leilehua High School and University of Hawaii-Hilo graduate has agreed to terms with the Miami Marlins to be the pitching coach for the Jamestown Jammers of the short-season Class A New York-Penn League.
Sagara, 36, said Thursday via phone that he had interviewed with the Marlins about another minor league spot unsuccessfully before accepting the Maui job. When the Jamestown position became open, the Marlins contacted him and things moved rapidly.
"It is definitely a different career path that opens up," he said. "You know you want the possibility of working your way up through the system to get to the big leagues. It is something you can't do in independent ball. The other part is that when you coach in affiliated ball, I am getting full benefits for my family in a full-time job."
Sagara was the pitching coach under former major leaguer Cory Snyder in Na Koa's first season in 2010 and was set to succeed former big league All-Star Garry Templeton as the manger in 2012.
"While we are happy for Brendan and his family for the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream, we are also disappointed that we won't have him as our skipper for the 2012 season," Na Koa general manager Dan Partney said in a release from the team. "It is reassuring that a major league ball club saw the same talent in Brendan that we did. The search for our new skipper begins immediately."
Sagara said in the release, "Although I was really looking forward to returning to Maui this season, I have been granted a great opportunity and will be unable to take the field with Na Koa this summer. The chance to join the player development staff with the Marlins is an opportunity I must take, as it will give me a chance to work towards my ultimate goal in baseball."
Sagara admitted that he had reservations about the Maui job before taking it - payroll has been delayed at least twice in each of the first two seasons, the team did not play its final 27 games in 2011 and the North American League cut its entire slate down by a week - but added that he thinks owner Bob Young and his staff are headed in the right direction. Two lawsuits that led Na Koa to pay damages, and an average of 320 fans per home game, were also part of the 2011 season.
"The franchise is in good hands with David (Andrus, the chief operating office), Dan, and Ozzie (marketing consultant Chris Osgood)," Sagara said. "They have the right vision to keep Na Koa going in the right direction. We all want professional baseball to stay on Maui and I know they will do everything in their power to make this team work. While I will no longer be leading the team on the field, I will continue to offer my advice and support."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org