Tigers close to choosing next pitching coach

Tigers close to choosing next pitching coach

DETROIT -- The Tigers are nearing a decision on their next pitching coach.

"Getting closer," manager Brad Ausmus said in a text message Monday evening.

Among those in the running for the job are Minor League pitching coordinator A.J. Sager and veteran Major League pitching coach Steve McCatty. The Tigers talked with both as part of what was a large group of initial candidates last week. Others who have been expected to be considered include former Tigers pitcher and ex-Astros pitching coach Doug Brocail. MLive.com reported that six candidates remain from an initial list of about a dozen.

A final decision could be held up by the start of the World Series on Tuesday. Teams are discouraged from making announcements during Major League Baseball's signature event.

Like retired Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones, McCatty has local ties, graduating from Troy High School, attending Macomb Community College and making his offseason home in the area. McCatty served as the Tigers' pitching coach in 2002 after six years in the farm system, then got another chance with the Nationals in 2009. He held the job until a few weeks ago, when he was let go with manager Matt Williams. McCatty has close ties with Jones, who was expected to consult with the Tigers on the process after announcing his retirement last week.

Sager pitched with the Tigers for parts of three seasons, then worked his way up the organization as an instructor, including pitching-coach jobs at Class A West Michigan, Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo. He spent the last couple of seasons as pitching coordinator.

Whoever gets the job inherits a pitching staff led by veteran starters Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez but supported by several young arms, among them Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd, Ian Krol, Shane Greene, Buck Farmer, Drew VerHagen, Kyle Ryan and Bruce Rondon.

The Detroit rotation's 4.64 ERA ranked as the highest in the American League in 2015, a sharp departure from four straight division titles behind a dominant set of starters. It is expected to make a jump with better health and experience, along with an infusion of free-agent talent.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.