Chicago Cubs set their 2018 coaching staff with Venable, Hickey
By Ryan Tadych
The Chicago Cubs coaching staff has been in a state of flux since the end of the season. Earlier this week, the Cubs finalized the last remaining open spots on their coaching staff.
As expected, the Chicago Cubs officially named Jim Hickey as the new pitching coach. Hickey is coming over from Tampa Bay and was the pitching coach for Joe Maddon when he was in Tampa.
As previously announced, Brandon Hyde takes over as the teams’ bench coach. He was previously the first base coach. Taking over at first base is Will Venable, who was recently named a special assistant to the front office.
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Hickey, a Chicago native, spent 11 season’s as the Rays pitching coach, and has a strong relationship with Joe Maddon. Hickey was the pitching coach for the 2005 Houston Astros and 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, who both lost World Series.
The Cubs have been tied to free-agent pitcher Alex Cobb this offseason. Cobb has been with the Rays organization and Hickey could help convince Cobb to Chicago if the Cubs are that serious about wanting him
Brandon Hyde remained one of the few holdovers from the pre-Maddon era and was previously the bench coach under Rick Renteria. He is thus moving into a role that he is familiar with but still has yet to prove himself in.
From front office to the field
The most significant newcomer is Will Venable. Many Cubs may remember Venable as a player. He spent nine seasons in the major leagues, slashing .249/.315/.404. He spent the majority of his career with the Padres. The 33-year-old spent the 2017 season in the Cubs’ front and is now moving into a coaching role for the first time in his career
Not much is known about Venable, outside of his playing career but clearly, the Cubs seem like he would be a good fit for the organization. Because Venable is now the first base coach, the Cubs have hired Jim Benedict as a special assistant. Benedict was the VP of pitching development for the Miami Marlins.
The Cubs now have a full coaching staff as follows:
Jim Hickey-Pitching Coach
Chili Davis-Hitting Coach
Brandon Hyde- Bench Coach
Brian Butterfield-3rd/Infield Coach
Will Venable-First Base Coach
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It’s not every day that sees a complete change out of a coaching staff for a team that has been to three straight NLCS but clearly, the Cubs and Joe Maddon thought changes were necessary. We will see how the players respond to the new coaches. Almost all of these are experienced well-known coaches who should fit easily into Joe Maddon’s regime.