Pole dismissed as Reds pitching coach
Rest of staff have their contracts renewed for 2010 season
CINCINNATI -- The Reds relieved pitching coach Dick Pole of his duties on Friday and announced that the rest of the coaching staff were renewed for 2010.Pole will not be in the dugout for the final three games of this season against the Pirates. He had already packed up his belongings and left the ballpark when the news was revealed. "I think as an organization that Dick has done a good job," general manager Walt Jocketty said. "At this point going forward, we're making a change and we'll leave it at that. There are no specific reasons. We really don't have a clear candidate [as a replacement]. We're going to formulate a list and try and find the right guy that can be with this organization a long time. We've got some young pitchers coming along. We want to make sure we find the right guy to help develop them."
Pole, 58, was in his third season as Reds pitching coach and was brought on by previous manager Jerry Narron in November 2006, as a replacement for interim pitching coach Tom Hume. Pole had also previously worked for Reds manager Dusty Baker with the Cubs and Giants.It was Baker who informed Pole of the change on Friday afternoon. "It was pretty difficult for me to tell him because you know how close me and him are," Baker said. "I'd rather be the one to tell him because of my relationship with him and how much he's done in the game. It's a tough decision, an organizational decision. I don't really want to get into specifics. It wouldn't serve any point. It's not fair to anybody." Reds pitchers showed improvement this year compared to 2008. The team entered Friday seventh in the National League with a 4.21 ERA compared to a 4.55 ERA last season, while its opponents' batting average was .258 compared to .275 in 2008. The pitching staff gave up 1,399 hits this season after they allowed 1,542 hits in '08. The Reds bullpen is ranked fourth in the National League with a 3.62 ERA, while the rotation is ranked ninth with a 4.62 ERA. The rotation was expected to be better, but was knocked down by a season-ending elbow injury to Edinson Volquez and disappointing years by Aaron Harang and Micah Owings. Johnny Cueto got off to a solid start but his numbers suffered mid-summer because of arm fatigue, which sent him to the disabled list for two weeks. "He was a good pitching coach. Somebody had a different opinion than me," Volquez said. "He was one of the good guys on the team. He taught me a lot for the last two years. I'm going to miss him next year." Although Jocketty wasn't naming potential replacement candidates, several come to mind immediately. Inside the organization, Triple-A Louisville pitching coach Ted Power and special assistant to the GM Mario Soto are highly regarded. Outside the organization, the first name that comes up is Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, who worked under Jocketty when he was the St. Louis GM. Reds owner/CEO Bob Castellini was once a minority shareholder with the Cardinals before he bought the Reds. "We have some guys internally we'll probably interview," Jocketty said. "We haven't even put a list together. We have a couple of guys in mind." Duncan has reportedly become unhappy lately, especially with that team's trade of his son, outfielder Chris Duncan, and the way the local media covered the younger Duncan in past seasons. Hitting coach Brook Jacoby, first-base coach Billy Hatcher, third-base coach Mark Berry, bench coach Chris Speier, bullpen coach Juan Lopez and bullpen catcher Mike Stefanski were all informed they would be returning. Jocketty didn't want to wait until after the season to make the decision known. "It's tough going to the last day," Jocketty said. "Those guys were all anxious to understand where they'd be next year. We decided this would be the best way to handle it. There's never a good way to handle it."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.