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Thursday, October 3, 2013
Cubs coach McKay "crushed" for Sveum

By Jesse Rogers

CHICAGO -- Being fired from his job is a new experience for former Chicago Cubs first base coach Dave McKay. He, along with manager Dale Sveum and the rest of the Cubs coaches, were let go on Monday, though McKay does have a chance at returning when the Cubs hire a new manager.

“It was a surprise,” McKay said by phone on Thursday afternoon. “I won’t say it wasn’t a surprise. For Dale, I was pretty much crushed. Rather me then him. I liked the effort Dale put in.”

McKay is highly regarded as an outfield coach and helped turn former Cub Alfonso Soriano into a better defender since McKay’s arrival from the St. Louis Cardinals before the 2012 season.

His firing isn’t something he’s used to, having been a part of the Oakland Athletics from 1984 to 1995 and the Cardinals from 1996 to 2011.

“Different than anything I’ve been a part of because I had been with Tony LaRussa for 27 years,” McKay said. “I was really fortunate and blessed to be working for a guy that every year you weren’t wondering if you’re coming back or not. You knew you were coming back.

“I never had to worry about or experience the general manager or owner’s idea of how they do something like this. It’s unusual for me, but I understood where [president of baseball operations] Theo [Epstein] is coming. He called and we had a nice conversation and hoped we would be back at it again.”

McKay is open to returning but understands a new manager should get the opportunity to hire whomever he wants while McKay is getting antsy to win again.

“I’m 63 years old. If they say you’re going to be winning in four or five years, I might not be there [in four or five years] even if I was asked,” he said. “It’s getting close to when I’m going to be retiring. Right now, I feel like I can do everything in the past. I don’t feel my age. The chance to work with these guys is exciting.”

If McKay returns, he’s enthusiastic about the possibility of working with Junior Lake for a full spring training, saying he didn’t get “one second” with him in the outfield in the spring of 2013. And he knows the Cubs have other talented players on the way. But first and foremost, he wants to win.

“When you play this game, you want to have fun,” McKay stated. “There is no one alive that can say they are having fun when they are getting beat all the time. You know the process, and you try to understand that. You go back to the hotel and lie in bed and wonder what you can do to change things around, and then you realize there’s nothing you can do. You just try to make these guys as solid as you can.

“They do have some talent where you’re saying you wish they could fast forward this a little bit. There’s going to be some talent showing up soon. You know they are going to be a winning organization, but you often wondered if you’d be a part of that.”

Having said that, it sounds like McKay will indeed wait it out and see if he’s a part of the new manager’s plans.

“People know I’m out there, and I mentioned it to a few people that there is a possibility I might not be coming back,” he explained. “If they [the Cubs] called back, we would talk.”

McKay praised his fellow coaches, expressing specific acknowledgment for pitching coach Chris Bosio, bullpen coach Lester Strode and assistant Mike Borzello, who mentored catcher Welington Castillo. His highest praise was left for Sveum.

“I feel bad for Dale because he put his heart and soul into this thing,” McKay said. “He just left no rock unturned. I thought he would be managing a lot of years, and I think he’ll be back managing with somebody someday. He did everything he could.

“I thought Dale would be one of these guys that would get better and better and better and adjust and learn. He didn’t get that opportunity. Of course, neither did Tony LaRussa with the White Sox.

“I’m sure Theo and [executive vice president and general manager] Jed [Hoyer] will find good people again.”