The Indians Major League coaching staff is undergoing some surprising and drastic changes, just one day after their season ended, they're already looking for a first base coach and a new pitching coach, but it may not stop there.
Before the season finale on Wednesday, bench coach and long-time confidant of manager Manny Acta, Tim Tolman, stepped aside from his duties partially due to Parkinsons disease. Cleveland was quick to elevate first base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. to the bench coach role and will look to fill that spot externally, according to Acta.
And now one day after the season ended, pitching coach Tim Belcher has announced he will also step aside. Belcher will be handling a role that he he had for eight years prior to being named pitching coach. In the end, some of the coaches who go from roving instructors and special assistants to full-time posts enjoy their job as coaches and instructors, but simply don't enjoy the full-time grind.
Changes may not be done, with Sandy Alomar Jr.'s name being mentioned in the newly opened Chicago White Sox managerial vacancy. Sandy has a history with the White Sox, having played there for a small stint after his main run with Cleveland, as well as time towards the end of his playing career. Alomar also was a candidate for the Toronto Blue Jays post that eventually went to former Indians farm director John Farrell.
If Alomar remains, he will take over the bench coaching spot vacated by Tolman, a natural progression in the Indians coaching ladder, if of course he doesn't get a manger spot somewhere.
Belcher's vacancy creates an interesting perdicament for a rotation that started to conform to his teachings. The starting rotation took a huge step in 2011 and it will be interesting to see if it causes some setbacks. The Indians could just opt to elevate bullpen coach Scott Radinsky as their pitching coach, a post he was up for when the Indians hired Belcher. It would keep continuity in the staff and reward someone who quietly handled a bullpen that made significant strides this past season.
As for the first base job, Manny Acta and Chris Antonetti are said to be in search of an external candidate who has experience in instructing outfielders and running the bases. To me, that sounds like Kenny Lofton, but we'll hold off on that. It reamins to be seen if Mike Sarbaugh, having just guided his team to a third consecutive minor league championship (past two with Columbus, Akron before that), is in the running.
Two things are for sure, the first replacement on Acta's staff, Bruce Fields, who came in for Jon Nunnally midway through this past season, will be back as hitting instructor. If Radinsky and Alomar remain, they'll be the only two members of Acta's staff who were hired when Acta was brought in.
The other definitie is Manny Acta, who will once again lead the Tribe and will do so without having to wonder about 2013 either. The Indians picked up their option on the skipper for 2013 and will reassure Acta and his players that this is a long-term process and they're looking to win a lot, not just for one or two years.
It will be interesting to see how the coaching staff shakes out. I for one hope Sandy doesn't get plucked and would love to see Sarbaugh get a well-deserved promotion. Certainly though, many fans would love to see yet another glory days player in Kenny Lofton make a full-time return to Cleveland.
Follow me on Twitter (@TheTribeDaily) for updates on the coaching staff and more offseason happenings.
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