Cubs change hitting coaches, hire Chili Davis

Hickey talks new pitching-coach position

Cubs change hitting coaches, hire Chili Davis

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs shook up their coaching staff on Thursday, naming Chili Davis as hitting coach and Brian Butterfield as third-base coach. They were expected to hire pitching coach Jim Hickey, who was under manager Joe Maddon while with the Rays, as well.

Multiple reports on Thursday said Hickey has a multiyear deal with the Cubs, though the club did not confirm. On Friday, Hickey spoke to a Tampa Bay radio station and talked about his new position, saying he was looking forward to reuniting with Maddon and joining a "great, great" Cubs organization.

A Chicago native, Hickey was a 13th-round Draft pick of the White Sox in 1983, but he never pitched in the big leagues. In 1996, he joined the Astros as a Minor League pitching coach and later held that position with the Major League team from 2005-06. In Nov. 2006, he was named the Rays' pitching coach, joining Maddon, who was the Tampa Bay manager.

Hickey served as the Rays' pitching coach through the 2017 season, but he was recently let go. Over his career, Hickey has worked with top pitchers such as Roger Clemens, Brad Lidge, Roy Oswalt, Brandon Backe, Chris Archer and David Price.

The Cubs on Thursday also announced the promotion of Andy Haines from Minor League hitting instructor to assistant hitting coach. The remainder of Maddon's 2018 coaching staff will be finalized at a later date, including the addition of Hickey.

The changes mean at least four coaches are gone from the Cubs, including pitching coach Chris Bosio, hitting coach John Mallee and third-base coach Gary Jones, as their contracts were not renewed. Assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske left to be the Angels' hitting coach.

When Maddon took over the Cubs in 2015, he inherited Bosio. The Cubs' manager said Thursday the team felt it was time for a "different voice."

"Moving along, and I hate to say, 'change in direction' -- I don't like to use that phrase," Maddon said. "We just thought a different voice was important right now. It had nothing to do with Hickey [being available]."

These changes come after the Cubs reached the postseason for a third consecutive year, but lost to the Dodgers, 4-1, in the National League Championship Series.

"This is about the Cubs moving forward," Maddon said. "We think these new coaches can help take us to another level and get us back to the World Series again. By no means am I denigrating the coaches who are leaving. I think all these guys are excellent, and you'll find out when they get a job in the near future. We just thought the guys coming in can add a skill set to us that we need."

Maddon may be naming a new bench coach as well. Dave Martinez was being considered for the Nationals' managerial opening, and Maddon endorsed him.

"I'm really hoping Davey gets this job," Maddon said. "It's about time he's being considered so strongly. He's ready to do this. It's time for him to hold his own baby and go out there and have his voice be heard. Obviously, we're all pulling for Davey. It's the right time for him."

The Cubs, who were ousted by the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World, struggled in the postseason with runners in scoring position, batting .149. Maddon knew Davis when he was a player with the Angels.

"Chili really has a good method regarding situations in general," Maddon said. "[He has an] ability to really be heard. I was on the staff when he was a player, and even then, I thought he'd be a great coach. I like his methods. I like what he says and how he says it beyond theory. I'm talking about practicality, reality, the kind of things I think he can do in-game besides just the work. He has a great message, and he's very good at delivering the message."

For Davis, 57, 2018 will mark his seventh season as a Major League hitting coach, as he previously spent three seasons with the Athletics (2012-14) and three with the Red Sox (2015-17).

Butterfield, 59, will begin his 22nd season as a coach at the Major League level, including his 18th as a third-base coach.

"Part of his background is he's an excellent third-base coach and he's really an outstanding baserunning coach, and we wanted to add that skill set to our group," Maddon said.

Haines, 40, joined the Cubs' organization as Minor League hitting coordinator prior to the 2016 campaign after spending the previous seven years in the Marlins' organization, most recently as manager of Triple-A New Orleans from 2014-15.

"I think the three of these guys give us some different voices for next year," Maddon said.

Maddon said the changes were made mainly because Davis and Butterfield were available.

"It's about somebody else maybe being able to add something different or new," Maddon said. "I don't like the word 'stale.' I think the approach can be different."

Mallee issued a statement: "I would like to thank the Chicago Cubs for the amazing opportunity to be part of a great tradition and organization for the last three years. I left a great Houston Astros organization to be closer to home with my family and to help my hometown team win a World Series. We did that. I have no regrets and stand by my work. I wish nothing but the best for the Cubs' organization and all the amazing people I met along the way, especially my hitters."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.