McGwire ‘torn’ on whether to return to Cardinals

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We already know that Tony La Russa will return to managing the St. Louis Cardinals next season. But the future of hitting coach Mark McGwire is far less certain, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

La Russa on Monday referred to McGwire as “really torn” about whether to return for a second season as hitting coach following the birth June 1 of triplet daughters. McGwire, who has been asked back, last month raised the possibility of not returning because of family concerns. Those issues have become more obvious since McGwire rejoined his wife, Stephanie, and their five children in California, according to La Russa.

“He’s having a real tussle trying to figure it out. Coach? Father? We’ll see which way he goes,” La Russa said. “He’ll definitely be offered a chance to come back.”

I’m sure baseball wives get used to their husbands being away a lot of the time, but with four-month old triplet daughters as part of the equation, you can bet McGwire is getting the full-court press to help out on the home front.

So expect McGwire to sit out next season, unless he hires a nanny or three.

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Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

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After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.

According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.

Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.

Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.