Cubs talking with Bill Mueller about hitting-coach position
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter November 12, 2013 9:37PM
8-30-2001 The Chicago Cubs defeat the Florida Marlins 5-4 at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon. Cubs 3rd baseman Bill Mueller watches his game-winning solo homerun in the 9th inning. (Photo by Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times) digital image
Updated: November 12, 2013 9:48PM
ORLANDO, Fla. — They avoided any semblance of a “wow” factor with their new manager, but the Cubs might make up for some of that with a new hitting coach.
The team is talking with former Cub and 2003 American League batting champion Bill Mueller about joining Rick Renteria’s coaching staff, according to multiple sources.
The staff also could include longtime minor-league instructors Gary Jones from the Padres and Bruce Fields from the Tigers as base coaches. The group is expected to be finalized in the next week or so.
Most of former manager Dale Sveum’s coaches either were fired or left for other jobs during the managerial search. Hitting coach James Rowson returned to the Yankees’ organization.
Mueller, long respected for a hitting approach that helped him surpass expectations as a 15th-round draft pick, has worked in the Dodgers’ front office since retiring in 2006. He hit .291 during an 11-year playing career.
Mueller, 42, filled in as the Dodgers’ hitting coach for half of the 2007 season and has spent the last year as a Dodgers scout.
He won the batting title with the Red Sox in Theo Epstein’s first season as general manager. He also was an important part of the Red Sox’ curse-busting “Idiots” team that won the World Series in 2004. He spent 2001 and part of 2002 with the Cubs.
“Obviously, the right hitting coach has to be on board with the organizational philosophy,” Cubs president Epstein said. “But maybe more importantly than that, he has to be able to connect with players and teach them and support them and struggle with them and ultimately triumph with them.”
Mueller walked more than he struck out four times in his career and had a .373 on-base percentage.
Fields and Jones are longtime Renteria guys. Fields, 53, is a former outfielder with the Tigers and Mariners. He managed eight seasons in the Tigers’ system through 2002 (.554 winning percentage) and briefly was the Indians’ hitting coach under Manny Acta. He spent last season as a roving hitting instructor in the Tigers’ system.
Jones, also 53, spent 15 years as a minor-league manager in the Athletics’, Red Sox’ and Padres’ systems.
The Cubs have retained pitching coach Chris Bosio and assistant pitching coach/bullpen coach Lester Strode.