Usually a process that happens behind the scenes and in the dark of night is the hiring of a coaching staff once a new manager is appointed. Much to the delight of many, and to the chagrin of some, the Reds will be going with new a pitching coach (obviously), hitting coach and bench coach for the upcoming 2014 campaign.
Meet first the new pitching coach…Jeff Pico.
For many, this will be the first introduction they’ve gotten to the man that will be leading the Reds staff for the coming years, but in reality, on May 31st, 1988, Jeff Pico threw a four-hit shutout against these very Redlegs. This was no ordinary start; it was Pico’s Major League debut.
The 47-year-old from Antioch, California, had a short-lived Major League career, only continuing until 1990. After going as high as the pitching coach for Double-A Mobile in 2008-09, Pico has been working as the Minor League Field Coordinator and Pitching Coordinator for the Arizona Diamondbacks. This is Pico’s first Major League gig, and first outside of the Diamondbacks organization. Undoubtedly, there was a bond formed between him and Price during his tenure, which means Price must have great confidence in his abilities.
Now, for the new hitting coach…Don Long.
It has been a long, winding road for Long in baseball ranks, having a long history of both Minor and Major League instruction. Long compiled 745 wins in 12 seasons as a Minor League manager before working eight years with the Philadelphia Phillies as the Minor League Hitting Coordinator.
The former Washington State Cougar player also served as hitting coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates, so he does bring an air of Major League experience to the clubhouse replacing the much critiqued Brook Jacoby.
Finally, the Reds new bench coach…Jay Bell.
Probably the most recognizable name on the list of new hires, as Bell compiled a more than solid Major League career over 17 seasons with the Indians, Pirates, Royals, Diamondbacks and Mets, winning a World Series with the Diamondbacks in 2001.
Bell has been serving as the hitting coach under Clint Hurdle in Pittsburgh for the past year, but he does have experience as a bench coach, having gone through the same role for Arizona.
Chris Speier’s role within the organization is still to be determined, but for a guy that once felt that he had the inside track to the managerial job in Cincinnati, it must be demoralizing. Another interesting figure to remember in this situation is Miguel Cairo. He filled in as bench coach last season while Speier took the duties of third-base coach with Mark Berry undergoing his cancer treatments.
The roles that all these men will fill are positions that are praised when all is going well and demonized when all else fails. The Reds are starting with a clean slate after the Dusty Baker era, which is what many fans wanted. Having stability within the clubhouse is a vital aspect of a successful organization, and with these moves the Reds have begun to build towards what should be a winning team in 2014, and beyond.