Reds tap Price to fill staff vacancy
Pitching coach showed success in Arizona and Seattle
Reds president of baseball operations and general manager Walt Jocketty did not set a strict timetable to hire a new Major League pitching coach when he spoke about the topic on Monday from organizational meetings at Cincinnati's new complex in Goodyear, Ariz.
"We want to get it done sooner than later," Jocketty said. "When we find the right guy, we'll move on it."
Apparently, Bryan Price was that "right guy."
Price was named pitching coach for Reds manager Dusty Baker's staff on Saturday, replacing Dick Pole who was dismissed on Oct. 2. Price, 47, spent the past 10 seasons as a pitching coach in the Major Leagues, holding that position with the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2006 until he resigned on May 8 after manager Bob Melvin was replaced by A.J. Hinch.
Speaking by phone, Price expressed excitement in taking on this National League Central challenge.
"It's going to be a really good group to work with," Price said. "I'm absolutely thrilled."
Before joining the D-backs, Price spent six seasons as pitching coach for the Seattle Mariners, including the 2003 and '04 campaigns when the club was managed by Melvin. Price said that he discussed the job with the Reds last week and was truly impressed with what he heard in the face-to-face meeting, which of course included Jocketty and Baker.
The course of Price's career has afforded him the chance to work with successful managers such as Lou Piniella, Mike Hargrove and Melvin. Adding Baker to this list was another motivating factor for Price.
"I feel honored to spend time with him and learn from him," said Price of Baker. "That was a big motivation for me. I look at this as a great opportunity to learn from a tremendous baseball man.
"They have a real idea in what they wanted to accomplish, where they are going," said Price of the Reds' overall leadership. "And they are definitely moving in that direction."
A first task at hand for Price will be to become familiar with the organization. For example, talking to people in player development who have worked with some of the young pitchers over the years. Price is somewhat familiar with the Reds hurlers at the big league level, although admittedly not as familiar as a coach who would have spent his prior years in the Central divisions.
But Price stressed on Saturday that he has a strong feeling about the pitching depth throughout the Reds' system, one of the factors drawing him to Cincinnati. Price will also start phone work with some of the primary pitchers on the staff to establish an early understanding of his philosophy.
"My main goal is when the pitchers come to Spring Training, they know what's ahead of them," Price said. "There are no surprises, in regard to the pitching workload at Spring Training or the conditioning.
"We want them to understand our philosophy and how we go about business. I feel like I have to be proactive in this job, and I can't wait for Spring Training and tell them what I want. They need to know that as they go into offseason workouts."
In 2001, while with the Mariners, Price earned USA Today Baseball Weekly's Pitching Coach of the Year Award after leading that staff to the AL ERA title with a 3.54 mark, an improvement of almost one run per game from the previous season. Before joining Seattle's Major League staff, Price was a pitching coach in the Mariners' Minor League system from 1989-97 before serving as the organization's pitching coordinator in 1998 and '99.
He also pitched for five seasons in the Angels' and Mariners' Minor League systems. Price was named Major League Coach of the Year by Baseball America in 2007 after his D-backs staff posted a 4.13 ERA, fourth best in the NL, on the way to the National League Championship Series. His 2008 starting staff led the Majors with 95 quality starts, ranked second in the league with 65 wins and ranked fourth with a 3.95 ERA, Arizona's lowest team ERA since 2003.
Former A's and Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson had expressed interest in the job as well, although Peterson is also believed to be a possibility for the Brewers' pitching coach opening. When questioned about the position earlier in the week, Jocketty passed on naming people from within the organization who could be candidates, before deciding on Price.
"We're very excited to be able to hire someone with Bryan's background and history of success," said Jocketty in a statement announcing Saturday's hiring.
Price is looking forward to the challenge of making his imprint on the Reds' staff in 2010.
"You know what? I know there is a lot of excitement with what the bullpen was able to do and how, when healthy, that rotation can be really quality -- one through five," Price said. "You can't have the depth of a 12-man pitching staff unless you have 18 to 20 guys who can pitch at that level over the course of a year, and it looks like we have a fine group of pitchers -- with seasoned veterans and young, quality arms."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.