Mike Matheny brings a friend on board, the hitting coach returns and last season’s bullpen coach gets a new assignment for the KC Royals.
Three coaches–one new to the club and two holdovers from Ned Yost’s staff–round out the 2020 coaching staff.
New manager Mike Matheny got to know most of his coaches while serving the franchise in an advisory role last season, but none had worked for him before. He also knew pitching coach Cal Eldred from St. Louis–Eldred, working in a similar advisory role for St. Louis, was helping minor league pitchers when Matheny skippered the Cardinals. But John Mabry, one of Matheny’s old Cardinal colleagues, will join Matheny in Kansas City.
Although he hasn’t detailed the specific scope of Matheny’s work (at least not to the public), expect Matheny to rely heavily on Mabry. They played together with the Cardinals, Mabry was named assistant to St. Louis hitting coach Mark McGwire when Matheny took over the Cardinals, then replaced McGwire after one year as his assistant.
The Cardinals became disillusioned with Matheny and fired him in July 2018. Mabry got the axe the same day. The former Cardinals are close; it will be interesting to see how Mabry’s role with the Royals develops.
This may be a pivotal season for third-year hitting coach Terry Bradshaw, who succeeded Dale Sveum when Sveum became Ned Yost’s bench coach in 2018. Offensive production declined in Bradshaw’s inaugural campaign but improved slightly in 2019; the presence of Mabry, however, Matheny’s hitting coach with the Cardinals, may mean Bradshaw’s job security depends on even more improvement.
Bradshaw played only 34 major league games for the Cardinals after being drafted in the 17th round by the Mets in 1987. He stroked a pinch-hit single in his first big league at-bat, hit another single in his only at-bat the next day, then slapped another pinch-hit single the very next game. His brief major league stay yielded a .262 average, but he hit .303 for the Cardinals’ Triple-A Louisville club in 1996 and stole 65 bases in 132 games for Savannah in ’91.
Bullpen coach Vance Wilson was an internal candidate to succeed Yost as Royals’ manager; when he didn’t get the job, Matheny made him his third base coach, replacing Mike Jirschele, who was to be reassigned within the organization.
Wilson managed at three different levels in the Royals’ minor league system before joining the major league club as bullpen coach in 2018. He played for the Mets and Tigers, was Mike Piazza‘s backup for a time in New York and batted .250 in eight big league seasons.
New KC Royals manager Mike Matheny has a revamped coaching staff. We’ll see how he and his coaches do when baseball returns.