PHOENIX — The Diamondbacks’ coaching search will begin at full speed on Friday, the day after contracts for almost all major league coaches expire.
The D-backs have an abnormally large amount of vacancies to fill — four — but finding a pitching coach to replace Charles Nagy appears to be the most pressing goal for general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson as they expand the interview process. Towers has made it a point this offseason to say that he wants a more aggressive staff, one that will throw inside more often to keep hitters off-balance.
The final opening became official Thursday, when the Nationals announced the hiring of Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams as their manager. The D-backs had anticipated the move for several weeks, but the Nationals observed protocol and waited until the World Series was over to make their news. Williams signed a multi-year deal, according to reports.
Some of the D-backs’ vacancies are likely to be filled from within. Turner Ward, who joined the staff last season as an assistant hitting coach, is a top candidate to replace Baylor as the hitting coach. Ward worked with many of the D-backs’ young players at Class AA Mobile, where he was the hitting coach from 2008-10 before becoming the manager in 2011-12. Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock and Adam Eaton were among the players he coached in Mobile.
Bullpen/catching coach Glenn Sherlock also could be promoted to coach either first or third base, and he has experience at both. Sherlock, who has been with the D-backs since their inception, opened the 2004 season as manager Bob Brenly’s first base coach but took over at third base when Al Pedrique replaced Brenly. Sherlock served as Brenly’s bench coach in 2003.
While there has been speculation that bench coach Alan Trammell could be asked to coach one of the bases, it appears likely at this point that Trammell will remain as Gibson’s right-hand man on the bench. The two were together in Detroit from 2003-05, when the roles were reversed, and Trammell is among Gibson’s most trusted colleagues.
The addition of Ward last season gave the D-backs seven coaches, and they are likely to remain at that number. The seventh coach in 2014 could be a hitting assistant, or it could be someone to supervise the running game. Gibson was critical of the running game last season, when the D-backs stole 62 bases and were successful a major league-low 60 percent of the time in Sax’s first year on the job.
Williams’ staff in Washington has not been announced, but general manager Mike Rizzo said he does not expect many changes. It does not appear than any of the D-backs’ coaches will join Williams, although advance scout Mark Weidemaier could be a candidate for a position with the Nationals.