Phillies making progress in search for new pitching coach


The Phillies are not setting any speed records in their pursuit of a new leader of baseball operations, but they are moving closer to naming a new pitching coach.

According to sources, the team has completed a first round of interviews and is moving on to the second round.

Dave Lundquist, Rafael Chaves and Caleb Cotham were three of the people interviewed in the first round, according to sources. It is not known if any of them moved on to the second round nor is it known how many people in total received first-round interviews. There were definitely more than three.

By moving on to the second round, the team has signaled that it has narrowed its field of candidates.

The Phillies are looking to fill the role vacated by Bryan Price, who, in October, retired one season into a three-year contract.

The Phillies' front office is in a state of flux. Matt Klentak was stripped of his general manager's title after a fifth straight non-winning season in October and his former assistant, Ned Rice, is serving as the interim GM with no sign of a permanent appointment anytime soon. This would seem to indicate that manager Joe Girardi is a key figure in the hiring of a next pitching coach — and he should be. Girardi has the most security of anyone in the Phillies' baseball operations department and he needs to have chemistry with his pitching coach.

Girardi does have a relationship with the three people who are known to have interviewed.

Lundquist, 47, has been the Phillies assistant pitching coach for the past two seasons and before that worked for 11 seasons in the team's minor-league system.

Chaves, 52, has been the team's minor-league pitching coordinator for six seasons. He previously worked for the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers and was Seattle's big-league pitching coach for two seasons.

Cotham, 33, has been assistant big-league pitching coach with the Cincinnati Reds the last two seasons. He pitched parts of two seasons in the majors, breaking in with the New York Yankees in 2015 when Girardi managed that club. 

Cotham is a protégé of Derek Johnson, the former Vanderbilt University and Milwaukee Brewers pitching coach who now serves in that role with the Reds. Cotham is skilled in pitching analytics and technology. He has a background with Driveline and has earned praise from Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer, a finalist for the National League Cy Young Award, which will be named Wednesday night. 

Back in October, Girardi said he was looking for a pitching coach who possessed strong communication skills, knowledge of pitching mechanics, the ability to quickly recognize mechanical breakdowns, and the ability to use analytics as an evaluation and coaching tool.

"This is an important position," he said.

In addition to pitching coach, the Phillies also have an opening for a bullpen coach after Jim Gott did not have his contract renewed. The pitching coach, assistant pitching and bullpen coach all work in concert with each other so hiring decisions could all be connected. It all starts with a pitching coach and it appears the Phillies are making some headway on that front.

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