Sammy Sosa is busy posting weird pictures on Pinterest and working for a needle-free injection company, but one thing he won’t be doing is going to this weekend’s annual Cubs Convention in Chicago.
Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports that Sosa was not invited, even though the Cubs did invite much lesser former players like Todd Walker.
In all 70 former players and coaches will be in attendance and the Cubs declined to give any explanation for why Sosa won’t be among them, but Sullivan writes that “Sosa has been estranged from his former team since the end of the 2004 season when he walked out of the clubhouse during the final game.”
Apparently no fences have been mended despite nine years passing and an entirely new regime taking over the front office.
Sosa played 13 seasons for the Cubs, winning an MVP in 1998 while hitting .284 with 545 homers and a .928 OPS in 1,811 games. While in Chicago he led the league twice in both homers and RBIs, and three times in both runs and total bases. But hey, Todd Walker!
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.