Rockies reassign pitching coach Bob Apodaca
DENVER – Colorado Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca asked to be reassigned Tuesday and will serve as a special assistant to general manager Dan O’Dowd.
Manager Jim Tracy said Apodaca approached O’Dowd and asked for the change.
“He’s tired, fellas. That’s pretty much what it boils down to,” Tracy said. “No one asked him to leave, no thought of firing him. He’s tired, he needs a break.”
Apodaca will be responsible for special pitching assignments as directed by O’Dowd, the Rockies said.
Bullpen coach Jim Wright and Triple-A pitching coach Bo McLaughlin will serve as co-pitching coaches for the remainder of the season. McLaughlin will join the team on Wednesday.
Wright will sit in the dugout for Tuesday’s game against the Washington Nationals and then move back to the bullpen. He will handle the relievers and McLaughlin will work with the starting staff.
“I’ll still be in the same capacity I was,” Wright said. “It’s going to be no different.”
Apodaca was in his 10th season as pitching coach for the Rockies and helped the team reach the 2007 World Series under manager Clint Hurdle. The staff had an ERA of 4.32 that season, and in 2009 it posted a franchise-best mark of 4.22. That team won a club-record 92 games – including a 74-42 mark under Tracy after he took over in late May – and reached the playoffs for the third time as the wild card.
Two years ago, Ubaldo Jimenez pitched the first no-hitter in franchise history.
The Rockies’ staff has fallen on hard times this year due to injuries and poor performance. Jorge De La Rosa has been out all season after Tommy John surgery last year, Jhoulys Chacin has been on the disabled list since May 6 and Juan Nicasio was placed on the 15-day DL on June 3.
Hurt by a patchwork rotation, the pitching staff ranks last in every major category and had a 5.29 ERA heading into Tuesday’s game.
The poor performances weighed heavy on Apodaca, Wright said.
“He’s a good man and in some respects he felt, as someone who has pride in his work, he felt he was letting people down,” he said. “I don’t agree with that. It takes a lot of guts to walk away.”
The shaky starting pitching was the impetus for the Rockies to go with a four-man rotation in which starters are limited to 75 pitches. The idea had been discussed for a few weeks before the Rockies implemented it last week.
“You try some different things to see if we can solve pitching in Coors Field better than if it’s been done in the past,” Tracy said. “So there have been a lot of people that have put their heads together. Some have gravitated to it just to see it where it’s going to take you. Is it the answer? Is it going to work? We don’t know that.”
Tracy said the staff was surprised by Apodaca’s decision. He had not talked with anyone on the team about his plan before going to O’Dowd on Tuesday. He spoke with Tracy following his meeting with the general manager.
“It was quite an emotional discussion. He didn’t want the interpretation to be as though he’s abandoning ship,” Tracy said. “It was something extremely heartfelt. I completely understand. I know what stress and fatigue can do to a man. In the long run this might end up doing Bobby a lot of good. He’s emotionally, mentally and physically beaten up.”
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