Spring question: Do coaches jell quickly?
Spring training isn't just for players to get prepared for the season. It's also for the coaching staff to get used to the new faces on the team -- and in the coaching clubhouse.
For the first time since the club elevated itself to contender status, manager Ron Washington has a different staff. Longtime coach Jackie Moore, who was Washington's bench coach since 2009, is gone. It was Nolan Ryan who felt that Washington needed some staff changes and hired Moore, who established a very close bond with Washington. The club decided after five years that it was time for another change. So Tim Bogar comes in for Moore.
Bogar is well-respected in the game and helped work on shifts and defensive alignments in Tampa Bay and Boston. He is charged with helping Washington any way he can in presenting all the options available to him during games. The relationship between a bench coach and the manager is an important one. How quickly Washington and Bogar can jell could certainly have an impact on the 2014 season.
But that's one huge plus to having six weeks of spring training. They'll have plenty of time to start to build that relationship through spring training workouts -- Bogar will handle putting the schedule together -- and Cactus League games.
The bench coach is only part of the changes. Dave Anderson, who was the club's third-base coach for four seasons before switching to first base last year, has also moved on. Gary Pettis remains at third base for 2014 with Bengie Molina coming on board to coach first base and handle the catchers. Molina played for Washington, so the two certainly know each other well and Molina knows the club's philosophy.
Bobby Jones is now a full-time big league coach. He's been around Washington and the rest of the existing staff enough that it's not as if it's someone brand new coming in.
The coaching staff must use the time in Surprise to get used to how one another work and how they can coalesce into a strong and successful unit. There's continuity among the pitching coaches with Mike Maddux and Andy Hawkins returning. Pettis has had a year at third base and that experience should certainly help him as he continues to also coach outfielders and handle the baserunning for the club. Dave Magadan also has a year under his belt as the hitting coach and will work to better understand what makes the newer players click, but can utilize strengths and weaknesses from last year to his advantage.
So as you watch the players this spring, don't forget about the coaches. They are a critical part of this club's success and will need to jell this spring so that everyone is ready for the start of 2014.
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