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Former Billings Mustangs players to join coaching staff

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Posted at 12:50 PM, May 12, 2021

(Editor's note: Mustangs release)

BILLINGS - The Billings Mustangs announced on Wednesday their 2021 coaching line-up.

Assisting new field manager Joe Kruzel will be pitching coach Winston Abreu and hitting coach Angel Franco. Both Abreu and Franco are former players. Billings will be their first stop as they begin to climb the major league coaching ladder. Tori Atencio, Athletic Trainer at Montana State University Billings, is the new Trainer.

Abreu, 44, originally hails from the Dominican Republic. Between 2006-2009 Abreu pitched for four major league clubs: the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals, Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians. He was originally signed by the Atlanta Braves in 1993 before finally retiring after spending the 2017 season with the Cleburne Railroaders of the American Association. He also spent a year with the Chiba Lotte Marines in the Nippon Professional Baseball League and played two seasons (2012-13) in the independent Atlantic League.

Franco, 30, spent 11 years in minor league baseball as an infielder, making it as far as Triple-A first with Omaha and then with Reno, an Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate, before retiring as a player after the 2017 season. A veteran of the Pioneer League, Franco hit .309 with a .372 on-base percentage for the Idaho Falls club back in 2009.

“We are so excited to welcome Winston Abreau and Angel Franco to Billings,” said Mustangs owner Dave Heller. “They are both guys that spent more than a decade working to get to the majors. They know what it takes to get to the big leagues, and they are eager to help teach the next generation. Together with our manager, Joe Kruzel, they’ll provide great leadership and guidance to this year’s Mustangs.”

Tori Atencio, a native of Albuquerque, NM, begins her first season with the Mustangs as the team’s Trainer. She is currently completing her fourth year at Montana State University Billings (MSUB) where she serves as an Athletic Trainer with the baseball, women’s soccer, and women’s triathlon programs. She also serves on the faculty of the Human Health and Performance Department and as Coordinator of Clinical Education for MSUB’s Master of Athletic Training Program.

Atencio earned her bachelor’s degree in athletic training from New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces in 2016. While there, she served on the New Mexico Athletic Trainers’ Association board as the student liaison. She earned her master’s degree in healthcare administration from MSUB in 2019. She is certified through the National Board of Certification for Athletic Trainers; she also holds certifications in CPR and lifeguarding. She is a member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, Montana Athletic Trainers’ Association, and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Trainers’ Association.

“Tori is a fantastic addition to our team,” said Mustangs owner Dave Heller. “She’s not only excelled in the competitive field of athletic training, she’s also a great teacher and coach. She will accompany our players on every road trip as well as be there for each home game and her presence and individually tailored training programs should give us a leg up on other teams. We did a national search for the best trainer – and in Tori we found her right here in Billings.”

The Mustangs open their first season as an MLB “Partner League” club on Saturday, May 22, on the road against the Idaho Falls Chukars. The Mustangs kick off their season at Dehler Park in Billings on May 26 against the Rocky Mountain Vibes.