Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Cubs finalize 2013 coaching staff
By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs announced a number of personnel moves Monday, with the most significant being that the major league coaching staff is now set for the 2013 season.
David Bell was named third-base coach, while James Rowson was named the full-time hitting coach after serving in an interim capacity in that role beginning in June when Rudy Jaramillo was fired.
The Cubs also announced that general manager Randy Bush was given a three-year contract extension and that head trainer Mark O'Neal would step down from his post, but remain with the organization as the likely coordinator of medical operations.
Bell, 40, replaces Pat Listach, who was informed on the last day of the regular season the Cubs would not retain his services. Bell also will assume Listach's former duties as infield instructor.
Bell was the Reds' Triple-A manager last season after serving three years as the organization's manager at Double-A.
The former infielder, who broke into the major leagues in 1995 and played until 2006, was a career .257 hitter with 123 home runs and 589 RBIs in 1,403 games for six teams: Cleveland, St. Louis, Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. When Bell finished his career in Milwaukee, Cubs manager Dale Sveum was a coach on the Brewers' staff.
He is a third generation major leaguer after his father Buddy Bell and his grandfather Gus Bell. Buddy Bell is a vice president in the White Sox organization.
David Bell also was named in the 2007 Mitchell Report as reportedly being linked to a banned substances.
Rowson was able to show the Cubs enough to make his hitting coach role a permanent one. He is the main architect of a new patient and disciplined approach at the plate that has an aim of working opponents' pitch counts, as well as improving the club's on-base percentage.
The player who made the most notable progression under Rowson was Starlin Castro, who struggled with the strategy at the outset but began to flourish late in the season. Castro managed to raise his OBP from .301 on Aug. 7 to as high as .324 before the season ended.
In other coaching staff news, pitching coach Chris Bosio underwent a double knee transplant that should have him back on his feet by spring training.
Bush is one of the few high-level holdovers from the regime of previous general manager Jim Hendry. His knowledge and easy-going style gave him an instant rapport with new club president Theo Epstein and new general manager Jed Hoyer.
O'Neal's requested change in responsibilities had to do with family concerns and the desire for a reduction in travel. He will remain with the club coordinating medical operations, and could be a main part of a medical and science component to the new spring-training facility in Mesa, Ariz., as well as one in the potential Wrigley Field expansion, according to Epstein.
In addition, the Cubs also finalized a number of changes in the international and professional scouting departments and are closing in on manager and coaching decisions with the minor league affiliates.