Cubs scouting exec Gary Hughes, 70, resigns
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org September 20, 2011 10:22PM
Updated: November 10, 2011 3:15PM
Even as Cubs ownership stresses continuity in efforts to keep key personnel in place until a new general manager is hired, significant losses may be unavoidable.
Underscoring the point was the announcement Tuesday that longtime scouting executive Gary Hughes — one of former GM Jim Hendry’s top assistants — has resigned, effective the end of next month.
‘‘I’m going in a different direction,’’ said Hughes, who was in Los Angeles on a scouting assignment. ‘‘I don’t have any bitter feelings and certainly wish the Rickettses well and think they’ll do fine as they go on. I don’t have anything negative to say.’’
Hughes, 70, is finishing his ninth season with the Cubs — 45th in professional baseball — and likely wasn’t going anywhere if Hendry hadn’t been fired.
‘‘It’s certainly part of it,’’ he said. ‘‘You want to be in a comfortable situation, and I couldn’t have been in a better situation than I was with Jim.
‘‘We’ll always remain very dear friends. It was sad to see that happen. But going in, we all know if you don’t win games, that’s what happens.’’
During a professional baseball career that began in 1967 with the San Francisco Giants, Hughes was the Florida Marlins’ original scouting director when he hired Hendry — then the head coach at Creighton.
A member of the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame and named by Baseball America as one of the top 10 scouts of the 20th century, Hughes said he plans to keep working in the game next year but said he has no idea where he might land.
‘‘I’m reminded of a music critic asking Jimmy Buffett, ‘What direction do you see your music going?’ ’’ Hughes said. ‘‘He said, ‘South.’
‘‘It’s like when I left the Marlins [after the 1997 championship] and didn’t know where I’d go, and it worked out OK.’’
Hughes’ son, Sam, remains the Cubs’ national cross-checker for amateur scouting.
Scouting director Tim Wilken didn’t get the longer-term contract extension — like the four-year extension farm director Oneri Fleita recently received — that some in the organization thought was coming.
But after meeting with chairman Tom Ricketts over the weekend, Wilken did get enough of a pledge of support heading into the final year of his contract next year to hire and retain staff at his discretion — an especially key commitment with several key scouting personnel already getting overtures from other clubs in the wake of Hendry’s firing.
With one day left before the home schedule ends, Hendry spent time before and during the game as a guest of the Cubs, visiting with players, staff and friends.
◆ Rodrigo Lopez gets one fewer start the last week of the season as the Cubs use Thursday’s day off to shuffle the rotation and get Ryan Dempster one more start — and a shot at 200 innings.
◆ Manager Mike Quade said he plans to get recently called-up catcher Steve Clevenger at least one start before the end of the season — most likely during the final series of the year in San Diego.
◆ First baseman/outfielder Bryan LaHair (minor-league-leading 38 home runs for Class AAA Iowa) and left-hander Jeff Beliveau (6-2, five saves, 1.57 combined ERA for Class A Daytona and Class AA Tennessee) were named the Cubs’ minor-league player and pitcher of the year.