By Marc Katz

Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

He's back.

Donnie Scott, who managed the Dayton Dragons for three of their first seven seasons the last in 2003 is returning in the spring to once again manage the Midwest League club.

"I feel I've got unfinished business in Dayton," said Scott, who has been with the Cincinnati Reds organization for 17 seasons and managed the Class A Sarasota Reds last summer. "We went to the playoffs twice (in Dayton), but that's not enough. You want a (championship) ring, man. I want to be the first one to walk away with a ring."

Scott said two factors will help him in his quest: 1) Better players are entering the Reds organization since the last time he managed the Dragons; 2) Bob Castellini, who bought the Reds franchise prior to last season.

"Mr. Castellini wants to win in Cincinnati and anyplace else," Scott said. "So do I. With the fans, there are not a lot of places like Dayton."

Winning has been a small part of the organization for a while. Last season, while numbers improved at the minor-league level, only two of six teams made the playoffs, both of them exiting in the first round. The Dragons finished out of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, going 67-73 after finishing the first half 35-35.

When the season was complete, first-year manager Billy Gardner Jr. was told his contract would not be renewed. His team was ninth overall in the 14-team league.

Reds farm director Johnny Almaraz originally asked minor-league hitting coordinator Leon Roberts to manage the Dragons, but before he announced that hiring, Roberts accepted a hitting coach position with the Atlanta organization.

Almaraz said he interviewed no one outside the Reds organization for the Dayton position, and a few days ago asked Scott if he would take the job.

"He's got a lot of experience," Almaraz said. "He's a good motivator and gets a lot out of kids. We're going to have a very important group of kids making the move from (rookie) Billings (Mont.) to Dayton, and Donnie's an organization guy."

Joining Scott as previously announced are pitching coach Doug Bair and hitting coach Darren Bragg.

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Dragons managers

Year Manager Record

2000 Freddie Benavides 70-67**

2001 Donnie Scott 82-57**

2002 Donnie Scott 73-67**

2003 Donnie Scott 61-78

2004 Alonzo Powell 48-92

2005 Alonzo Powell 60-79

2006 Billy Gardner Jr. 67-73

** Made playoffs