You may have heard that the Reds hired a new manager. His name is Bryan Price. He used to be Cincinnati’s pitching coach, but then the Reds fired their previous manager (that guy’s name was Dusty Baker), and Price was installed as the field general.
What’s that, you say? You already knew all this?
Well, let’s talk about the new Reds coaching staff that will be supporting Price in 2014. This week, the Reds made it official:
–First base coach Billy Hatcher will return.
–Bench coach: Jay Bell.
–Hitting coach: Don Long.
–Pitching coach: Jeff Pico.
–Third base coach: Steve Smith.
–Freddie Benavides is just a “coach;” he’ll focus on infielders.
–Catching coach Mike Stefanski will remain in that role.
–Bullpen coach: Mack Jenkins
John Fay has some of the particulars about each coach. Here’s the short version:
Jay Bell was a decent major league shortstop; he served as the Pirates hitting coach last season. He previously served as a bench coach with Arizona during Bryan Price’s stint as a pitching coach for the Diamondbacks.
Don Long was the Braves’ minor league hitting coordinator for the last three years, but he served as Pittsburgh’s hitting coach for three years before that. Interestingly, Long has been a manager in the minor leagues for eleven years. Also, his name isn’t “Brook Jacoby,” so that should immediately endear him to a certain segment of the Reds fan base.
Pico has been a minor league pitching coach and a pitching coordinator in the Arizona system for the last eleven seasons. He was also a pitcher for the Cubs in the late 1980s, which isn’t a good sign. Frankly, I thought Mack Jenkins would get this job, but the Reds named him bullpen coach. Otherwise, don’t ask me. I don’t know any of these guys personally. I’ll have to trust Price and GM Walt Jocketty.
There is actually a little bit of drama surrounding the new staff. As noted above, Steve Smith was named third base coach. Mark Berry, of course, has served in that role for more than a decade, and he’s actually been with the Reds organization since being drafted way back in 1983. Evidently, Berry declined an opportunity to join Bryan Price’s staff:
Berry was offered a chance to stay on, but declined, general manager Walt Jocketty said on Wednesday. Berry missed more than half of the 2013 season after being diagnosed with cancer of the tonsils and lymph nodes during spring training.
Although near the end of the season Berry had been told he was cancer free, Jocketty said Berry didn’t want to take a chance that he’d miss any of the 2014 season.
“I think he was a little uncertain of what his status would be and he didn’t want to be a distraction to the club like he was last year,” Jocketty said.
Jocketty indicated that he hoped Berry would return to the Reds organization in some capacity, and I hope that happens.
The other interesting tidbit involves Ronnie Ortegon. Ortegon became the Reds’ assistant hitting coach last December. Well, after the Reds stole Don Long from Atlanta to be the Reds’ hitting coach, the Braves named Ortegon to take Long’s old spot as minor league hitting coordinator. It’s a revolving door at the headquarters of the old boys network.
So there you have it. These guys have a lot of experience in the Arizona organization; clearly, that’s due to Bryan Price’s link to the Diamondbacks. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, except in one respect: it’s going to give former Arizona broadcaster Thom Brennaman an excuse to talk about the Diamondbacks even more than he already does.
Heaven help us.
Blame Chad for creating this mess.
Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.
You can email Chad at firstname.lastname@example.org.