Palatine native Gellinger fills 'invaluable' role with rebuilding White Sox
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Mike Gellinger has done it all with the Chicago White Sox.
He played in the Sox's minor-league season in 1987.
A year later, he was a minor-league coach for the Sox.
From 1989-91, he was a minor-league manager.
In 1992-93, he was the White Sox's minor-league defensive coordinator.
In 1994-95, he was back managing in the minors.
In '96, he was minor-league infield coordinator.
After that, it was a 14-year run as the Sox's computer scouting analyst.
In 2011-12, he was the White Sox's assistant hitting coach.
From 2013-15, he was back managing in the minor leagues, and he returned as minor-league infield coordinator in 2016.
Gellinger is so highly regarded in the Sox's organization, former manager Ozzie Guillen was prepared to name him bench coach in 2011 had Joey Cora gotten a major-league managing job and left the White Sox.
A 1982 Fremd High School graduate and son of Illinois High School Hall of Fame coach Terry Gellinger, Palatine native Mike Gellinger is entering his second season as the Sox's minor-league hitting coordinator.
With talented prospects like Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Zack Collins, Blake Rutherford and Jake Burger in the system, Gellinger is filling a vital role.
"Gelly is invaluable in this whole process," said Chris Getz, the White Sox's director of player development. "He's well experienced. He's probably seen more at-bats, whether it be in person or video, than anyone I can think of. He studies the game endlessly.
"When it comes to the development of some of the players we've brought in here, he can easily go back into his references and say, 'This kind of reminds me of this, or this, or this,' and he can almost naturally put a plan together for that guy. So to have him in our system, I think it's fantastic and it's certainly going to help us move in the right direction."
Based in Arizona as minor-league hitting coordinator, Gellinger is typically on the road for four or five days a week during the season working with hitters at Class AAA Charlotte, AA Birmingham, high A Winston-Salem, low A Kannapolis, Advanced Rookie Great Fallas and the Arizona Rookie League.
He is back in Arizona for Instructional League work at season's end, and Gellinger is always available to help Sox veterans or prospects during the winter and leading into spring training.
"I love talking hitting and talking baseball," Gellinger said. "It's very exciting because there is obviously a great bunch of young talent here. To have guys as talented as they are, it certainly makes the job seem easier."
During the opening week of camp this spring, Gellinger was in demand. Before stepping into the cage for batting practice, hitters from all levels of the White Sox's system stopped by for advice.
"Guys just gravitate to him," Getz said. "He's got a great temperament and he cares. With Gelly, you don't sense any self interest. When you do as a player, you know the guy's not in the battle with you and then the message can't be conveyed properly.
"He's got a lot of qualities that make for a successful hitting coach, coordinator, you name it. I feel very confident having Gelly in the position we do. Guys know he cares and they know he's going to help them."
Gellinger's current specialty is fixing swings, but he also uses his 32 years of experience with the Sox to expand his instruction.
"I'm just trying to help get all of the young guys acclimated," Gellinger said. "There are more fans, more media, all of those things are going to add a little extra pressure to everything. The more they experience those situations, the easier it's going to be for them."