Cubs' Maddon Pleased With Transition Of New Staff

Joe Maddon is flanked by a new pitching coach, hitting coach and bench coach.

Bruce Levine
April 12, 2019 - 2:25 pm

CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- In prior generations in baseball, managers had a tendency to stack their coaching staffs with former teammates or buddies from the past. That was particularly true in naming a bench coach, a role that became prevalent in the latter half of the 1980s.

Today, the priority in building a coaching staff is finding individuals who specialize in an area, communicate well and understand how to smoothly apply analytics to their instruction of players.

For the Cubs, manager Joe Maddon has three news coaches in key spots -- pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, hitting coach Anthony Iapoce and bench coach Mark Loretta. All three were hand-picked by the Cubs front office to replace Jim Hickey, Chili Davis and Brandon Hyde, respectively.

Hottovy had been a scouting and pregame specialist for the Cubs' big league pitching staff prior to his promotion. Iapoce had previously worked as a hitting instructor in the Cubs' minor league system organization before filling the Rangers' hitting coach role from 2016-'18. Loretta was hired into the Padres' baseball operations department by Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer when he filled the same role in San Diego. 

Despite the turnovers, Maddon believes the transition has well to this point.

"There definitely is a break-in period," Maddon said. "We had a really good camp. I had already known these guys, so it's not like I didn't know them coming into the door. I am the one who has to be a quick study, not them. I have to understand them quickly. I think I am pretty much at that point. Meaning in game, I will fire things at Iapoce and Tommy. They are both really sharp and are able to come back with things. As we move on, they will be more expected to have all the right phases back for me."

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When Maddon was hired by the Cubs prior to the 2015 season, he brought bench coach Davey Martinez with him from Tampa Bay. They'd already worked together for seven years with the Rays, and Martinez was a sound board for Maddon until he left to become Nationals manager ahead of the 2018 season.

"When I came here in 2015, the only one I knew was Davey," Maddon said. "It's never been a concern of mine. When I went to the Rays, they gave me a couple of three guys. It appears on the outside to be difficult but for me, it's up to me to make an adjustment to them quickly. These guys are really good. I will have my meetings bi-monthly. I need to continue to set the right direction as I see it."

Iapoce has had a smooth transition back to the organization.

"Joe has been unbelievable," Iapoce said. "He is one of the best coaches in the game, including managers. He has made it a pretty smooth transition for everybody. The managers have to be able to talk to all the players. He is always there to back us up and help everybody. He definitely gives you a heads up in advance when he talks to players."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.