Cubs

Cubs will hire Jim Hickey as next pitching coach to oversee new phase at Wrigley

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USA TODAY

Cubs will hire Jim Hickey as next pitching coach to oversee new phase at Wrigley

The Cubs have a deal with Jim Hickey to make him their new pitching coach, a source familiar with the agreement said Thursday, part of a much broader shakeup to Joe Maddon’s staff and a team that will need to replace 40 percent of the rotation and identify a new closer.

The Cubs essentially limited their search to one candidate after firing Chris Bosio last week, knowing Hickey’s close relationship with Maddon, his reputation for helping the Tampa Bay Rays consistently develop young pitchers like David Price and Chris Archer and his roots on Chicago’s South Side.

Hickey became an in-demand free agent earlier this month when he parted ways with Tampa Bay with a year remaining on his contract. Maddon denied the speculation about a reunion during the National League Championship Series, when he said “of course” he would like his entire coaching staff back in 2018.

Two days later, Bosio got fired during a Wrigley Field exit meeting. Hickey was said to be in the mix for potential jobs with the St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox.

“The fact that Hickey’s available has nothing to do with it,” Maddon said Thursday on the same conference call where he explained the availability of Chili Davis and Brian Butterfield — with the Red Sox staff in flux — led to the dismissals of hitting coach John Mallee and third base coach Gary Jones.

Bosio — whose six years with the Cubs covered marketing short-term assets like Ryan Dempster, Scott Feldman, Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija for big trade-deadline deals and overseeing the development of Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks into foundation pieces for a World Series rotation — is said to be close to landing another job as the Detroit Tigers pitching coach.

With Arrieta and All-Star closer Wade Davis about to become free agents — and John Lackey expected to disappear into retirement in Texas — the Cubs will have a major overhaul of their pitching staff. Two key pieces to that pitching infrastructure — catching/strategy coach Mike Borzello and run prevention coordinator Tommy Hottovy — will remain in place next season.

Hickey also creates another connection to Alex Cobb, a free agent the Cubs will need intelligence on after he underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in the middle of the 2015 season. Cobb went 48-35 with a 3.50 ERA in 115 career starts for the Rays, just turned 30 and has only 700 innings of major-league wear and tear on his body.

Major League Baseball is entering a World Series blackout zone where teams are not allowed to make major announcements. But there is no doubt Hickey will be coming home to Chicago, wearing a Cubs uniform next season and standing next to Maddon in the Wrigley Field dugout.

“We just thought it was time for a different voice at this particular moment,” Maddon said. “I don’t want to get too deeply into that, but that’s exactly where we’re coming from. We just decided to make this change. I’m here to tell you, man, Boz is one of the most organized coaches — not just pitching coaches — I’ve ever been around.

“Nobody can care more than he did. But just moving it along — and I hate to say change in direction or whatever, I don’t like to use that phrase — we just thought a different voice was important right now. And that’s it. But it had nothing to do with Hickey.”

Cubs Talk Podcast: Where do Cubs go from here with Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Where do Cubs go from here with Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis?

In the latest CubsTalk Podcast, Kelly Crull and David Kaplan look ahead to Thanksgiving and discuss the official coaching hires for the Cubs.

They also talk about where the Cubs go from here with Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis, whether Alex Cobb could factor into the rotation plans and Kap goes off on the 11:30 a.m. Opening Day start time.

Check out the entire podcast here:

NBC Sports Chicago to deliver a Chicago baseball Thanksgiving Day marathon

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NBC Sports Chicago to deliver a Chicago baseball Thanksgiving Day marathon

15-straight hours of “Classic” Cubs and White Sox full game replays from the 2017 season gets underway at 9:00 AM CT

NBC Sports Chicago live stream available 24/7 on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive  or via the NBC Sports app

Chicago, IL (November 21, 2017) -- NBC Sports Chicago, the multi-platform home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox, will provide its viewers with a special 15-hour Thanksgiving Day marathon featuring four, thrilling “Classic” games from this past Cubs & White Sox season beginning this Thursday, November 23 at 9:00 AM CT. 

NBC Sports Chicago will also live stream this Classic games marathon to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app.  NOTE: MLB game replays will only be made available to those viewers within NBC Sports Chicago’s regular MLB viewing territory.

Note NBC Sports Chicago’s Thanksgiving Day Cubs & White Sox “Classics” game marathon line-up below (all times Central Time):

THANKSGIVING DAY - THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23

9:00 AM“White Sox Classics: White Sox vs. Houston (from August 10) – The future most certainly looked bright on the southside in this match-up as the White Sox defeated the eventual World Series champs, thanks in part to some 9th/extra-inning heroics from team’s highly-touted future cornerstone, Yoan Moncada.

12:30 PM“Cubs Classics: Cubs at Milwaukee (from September 21) – In one of their most exciting victories of the season, the Cubs were down 3-2 in the top of the ninth (not to mention being down to their last strike), but second baseman Javy Baez came through with a clutch RBI single to force extra innings, which was then followed by reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant crushing the Brew Crew’s hopes for division contention with a two-run blast in the 10th.

4:30 PM“White Sox Classics: White Sox at Detroit (from September 14) – The bats were indeed alive as the White Sox belted out 25 hits (a White Sox personal best total since 1981) featuring some impressive firepower courtesy of its top three stars: Avisail Garcia (5-5, HR, 7 RBI), Yoan Moncada (4-5, HR), and Jose Abreu (4-5, 2 RBI).

8:00 PM“Cubs Classics: Cubs at St. Louis (from September 27) – The Cubs clinched their second-straight NL Central Division title with all five of their runs coming in the 7th inning, which included shortstop Addison Russell’s GW three-run shot.  NOTE: Immediately following this “Cubs Classics” game (approx. 10:55 PM), fans can look forward to a replay of “Cubs Postgame Live” that featured the team’s NL Central Division-clinching locker room celebration.

REMINDER: NBC Sports Chicago/NBCSportsChicago.com/NBC Sports app will carry live coverage of all eight Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Football State Championship games this weekend (all in HD) beginning with the Class 1A title game Friday morning (Nov. 24) at 10:00 AM and all the way through to the Class 8A battle between area preps powerhouses Lincoln-Way East (13-0) vs. Loyola Academy (12-1) on Saturday night (Nov. 25) at 7:00 PM on NBC Sports Chicago+.  Fans are urged to visit NBCSportsChicago.com/preps for full coverage and precise channel location/live streaming details.