Rockies part ways with coaches Wright, McLaughlin

DENVER -- The Rockies' on-the-field changes began Thursday, when the team announced that it has parted ways with pitching coach Jim Wright and assistant pitching coach Bo McLaughlin.

The moves came after a season in which the Rockies went 66-96 and finished last in the Majors in several categories -- ERA (4.84), WHIP (1.44) and save conversions (24 for 49). Their .276 batting average against was the Majors' second-highest.

Wright leaves after 18 seasons in the organization. He became pitching coach when Bob Apodaca resigned in June 2012. Wright also served as interim pitching coach in 2002 and was the bullpen coach from 2009 until Apodaca's resignation.

McLaughlin spent 13 seasons in the Rockies organization. He was named co-pitching coach, along with Wright, after Apodaca left and has been Wright's assistant the last two seasons.

These are the Rockies' first changes to the field staff under new general manager Jeff Bridich, who collaborated with manager Walt Weiss and discussed the situation with personnel internally.

Bridich said he could not discuss specific candidates, but he and Weiss will evaluate internal and external candidates. Bridich said there is no timetable for replacing Wright and McLaughlin. He also said he and Weiss will determine whether the openings are for a pitching coach and assistant or whether they'll go with a pitching coach/bullpen coach structure. Weiss added that there will be "no drastic changes in philosophy. We will always hunt ground balls and double plays."

Bridich complimented Wright and McLaughlin.

"Many people had a hand in it, and we felt we had the opportunity for a clean start and some new voices in the process," said Bridich, who became GM on Oct. 8 after Dan O'Dowd resigned. "It was a very difficult decision to make based on the men involved, especially with 18 years for Jimmy and over 10 for Bo. We certainly appreciate everything they did in a variety of roles. It was something we felt was necessary as we try to move this thing forward."

Wright said he appreciated the time with the Rockies.

"I'm so thankful for the years I shared with them and I see the growth of the organization through those 18 years with Dick and Charlie [Monfort, the club owners]," Wright said. "I'm saddened that it has come to an end, those years with the Rockies that my family and I shared.

"But there are things like this in Major League Baseball. You have to win and if you don't, you have to look at areas that were weak. We had a lot of injuries, but there are no excuses. We were at or near the bottom in pitching. I accept the responsibility."

Within the organization, pitching coordinator Doug Linton and Double-A Tulsa pitching coach Darryl Scott have been seen as prospects who could receive Major League consideration.

Bridich said it is early in the planning process, so decisions haven't been made on the status of other coaches from the 2014 staff.

Not currently a candidate for the open pitching coach job is Mark Wiley, who has a long career as a Major League pitching coach and has served the Rockies in player development and personnel capacities. Wiley has spent the last two-plus seasons as the Rockies' director of pitching operations, and is in charge of development of pitching throughout the farm system. Bridich said Wiley's work across a number of different areas of the organization is expected to continue.

Bridich said he did not want to comment now on specifics in terms of the pitching coaching philosophy he envisions.

Also, Bridich said he will need to fill three to four positions in the organization and there will be some internal shuffling as he fills roles. A key decision will be selecting an assistant GM.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.