Pole out as pitching coach
We knew something out of the ordinary was coming when reporters were summoned to the Reds clubhouse early, before the usual 3:40 p.m. opening time. Once summoned into the manager’s office, GM Walt Jocketty and Dusty Baker let us know that all of the coaches were renewed for 2010, except for pitching coach Dick Pole.
Pole will not be in the dugout for the final three games of this season against the Pirates.
“I think as an organization that Dick has done a good job,” Jocketty said. “At this point going forward, we’re making a change and we’ll leave it at that. There are no specific reasons. We really don’t have a clear candidate [as a replacement]. We’re going to formulate a list and try and find the right guy that can be with this organization a long time. We’ve got some young pitchers coming along. We want to make sure we find the right guy to help develop them.”
Pole, 58, was in his third season as the Reds pitching coach and was brought on by previous manager Jerry Narron. Pole had previously worked with Baker on the Cubs’ staff. It was Baker who informed Pole of the change.
Hitting coach Brook Jacoby, first base coach Billy Hatcher, third base coach Mark Berry, bench coach Chris Speier, bullpen coach Juan Lopez, bullpen coach Juan Lopez and bullpen catcher Mike Stefanski were all informed they would be returning.
In house — I’d have to imagine that Triple-A Louisville pitching coach Ted Power and perhaps organizational instructor Mario Soto would be candidates for the job. And before you even ask, Jeff Brantley has zero chance to get the job.
Outside — Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan immediately comes to mind, despite the pine tar flap from Thursday. He obviously worked for Jocketty in the past and owner Bob Castellini used to have a minority interest with the Cardinals.
The general impression here is that this decision wasn’t Baker’s to make.
“I told Dick when I got here today,” Baker said. “It was pretty difficult for me to tell him because you know how close me and him are. I’d rather be the one to tell him because of my relationship with him and how much he’s done in the game. It’s a tough decision, an organizational decision.”
The details of why Pole was let go were not revealed. There had been times when some pitchers didn’t follow his directions and went their own way. Edinson Volquez defended Pole, however.
“He was a good pitching coach. Somebody had a different opinion than me,” Volquez said. “He was one of the good guys on the team. He taught me a lot for the last two years. I’m going to miss him next year.”
One reason the decision seems odd — Reds pitchers showed improvement this year. The team ERA entering Friday was 4.21 compared to 4.55 in 2008. Opponent’s batting average was .258 compared to .275 last season. Hits are 1399 in ’09 to 1542 in ’08.
Jocketty didn’t want to wait until after the season to make the decision known, so coaches wouldn’t be twisting in the wind.
“It’s tough going to the last day,” Jocketty said. “Those guys were all anxious to understand where they’d be next year. We decided this would be the best way to handle it. there’s never a good way to handle it.”
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