- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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The New York Mets made sweeping changes to their coaching staff Wednesday and will retain only pitching coach Dan Warthen and hitting coach Dave Hudgens in their current roles on manager Terry Collins' staff for 2012.
Bench coach Ken Oberkfell, third-base coach Chip Hale, first-base coach Mookie Wilson and bullpen coach Jon Debus are out.
Hale, invited to remain on the major league staff, instead chose to join manager Bob Melvin with the Oakland Athletics on a two-year contract. The two previously had been paired with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Wilson and Debus have been offered other positions within the Mets organization, while Oberkfell was not invited to remain in another capacity, general manager Sandy Alderson said.
Tim Teufel, who managed Triple-A Buffalo last season, will take over for Hale as third-base coach. He is managing Caracas in the Venezuelan winter league this offseason. Ricky Bones, who served as Teufel's pitching coach with Buffalo, will take over as bullpen coach.
The Mets announced that the vacancies at bench coach and first-base coach will be officially filled in upcoming weeks.
Alderson said the switch from Debus to Bones was made because someone with a pitching background may be more able to ready Mets relievers for entry into the game. Debus has a catching background, while Bones pitched in the majors for 11 seasons.
As for bench coach, Alderson said the Mets will look for someone with experience in that role, who preferably is familiar with current major league players. Before becoming bench coach this season, Oberkfell spent six seasons as the Mets' Triple-A manager.
Explaining the moves, Alderson said: "Jon Debus in the bullpen is a catcher by trade. We have felt in pivotal situations that perhaps having a pitching presence there would be preferable. So that was a point of discussion.
"With respect to the bench-coach position and Obie, Obie has been with the organization for a long time and has done a nice job for us in a variety of capacities. We just felt with the departure of Chip and the composition of the rest of the staff that we needed somebody with a slightly different set of experiences there and abilities. As far as first base is concerned, Mookie was responsible for outfield and baserunning. Not a criticism necessarily of his work on those two areas, we just felt that Mookie actually would be more valuable to us in some other capacity in the organization."
Hudgens had a two-year contract as hitting coach and already was signed for 2012.
As for retaining Warthen as pitching coach, Collins said: "First of all, he has a great relationship with our pitching staff. I watched him prepare on a daily basis and come up with a plan that when executed worked."
Alderson indicated Wally Backman was not a candidate for the major league staff, but likely would fill Teufel's former role managing Triple-A Buffalo.
"Wally has a history of motivating his players and having success," Alderson said.
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.