Pitching coach Bob McClure learned from the best, now passing it on to Phils' young pitchers

Pitching coach Bob McClure learned from the best, now passing it on to Phils' young pitchers

MILWAUKEE -- Bob McClure had plenty of work to do Saturday as the Phillies prepared to face the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 2 of a three-game set at Miller Park, but Philadelphia's pitching coach needed to take a brief break before Aaron Nola threw his first pitch to handle some personal business.

McClure crossed the field to join his 1982 Milwaukee Brewers teammates as they were honored on the 35th anniversary of that franchise's first — and to this date — only World Series appearance.

"A lot of the guys have been to the reunions in the past but I've either been playing or coaching so this is the first one I've been able to go to," McClure said. "It's very exciting to see these guys because a lot of them were my mentors."

McClure was 30 years old and already had seven seasons under his belt when the '82 campaign got underway. He started 26 games for the Brewers that season and went 12-7 with a 4.22 ERA in 34 overall appearances, moving to the bullpen later in the season after closer Rollie Fingers suffered an arm injury and the team acquired Don Sutton in August to bolster the rotation.

He was on the mound for the final outs of the regular season as Milwaukee beat the Orioles to clinch the AL East crown and made six postseason appearances in the ALCS and World Series, going 1-2 with a pair of saves and a 3.00 ERA in six innings of work.

McClure pitched 11 more seasons in the big leagues finishing with a 68-37 record and 3.81 ERA in 698 career appearances; success he attributes to the lessons he learned while playing alongside the likes of Fingers, Sutton and other talented pitchers like Mike Caldwell, Pete Vukovich and Jim Slaton.

"(Caldwell) took me under his wing," McClure said. "I'd watch him pitch — a guy who went 22-9 one year with 20-some complete games. I like I had better stuff, but he'd have better results. I'd talk to him about it. He'd rarely pitch above the knees. He could pitch you in, he could pitch you away, but he kept the ball down so well. It was really him teaching me how to command the baseball and the idea of command over velocity. I wasn't very good at it, but it helped me a lot. 

"Caldwell and Vukovich were two of the most competitive guys I'd ever see take the mound and (catcher) Ted Simmons was the overall mentor to all of us. He helped our team learn how to win. It sounds basic but when you have a group of talented guys who hadn't put it together, getting a guy like Ted Simmons kind of got everyone on the same page to play together and win games as a unit."

After his career came to an end in the 1993 season, McClure joined the coaching ranks, first with the Colorado Rockies from 1999-2005 then joined the Royals, who fired him after the 2011 season. 

He spent less than one season in the Red Sox organization and signed on as the Phillies' pitching coach in November 2013.

In Philadelphia, McClure has plenty of young talent to work with. Along with Nola, the franchise has high hopes for Jerad Eickhoff and Nick Pivetta. As McClure helps those players get their careers going, he tries to pass along the lessons he learned while in Milwaukee.

"It can be trying at times but I try to look back on how long it took me," McClure said. "It took me three years before I even started to realize who I was or what I could do. The most satisfying thing for me is seeing guys understand mentally where they're at, what they can do, what they can't do so they start to know themselves."

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

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Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

Gabe Kapler on Friday added to his coaching staff by naming Jim Gott the Phillies' bullpen coach.

Gott was the minor-league pitching coordinator for the Angels the last five seasons and the pitching coach for the Arizona League Angels the three years prior to that role.

He played for the Blue Jays, Giants, Pirates and Dodgers over 14 major-league seasons as a starter and reliever. Gott, now 58 years old, compiled a 3.87 ERA while making 96 starts and converting 91 saves.

Kapler and the Phillies still need to name a pitching coach and first-base coach. Last week, they named Dusty Wathan third-base coach and hired John Mallee as hitting coach, while retaining Rick Kranitz, who was the assistant pitching coach last season (see story). He could fill the main pitching coach vacancy, although his role is currently to be determined.

In 2017, Bob McClure served the Phillies as pitching coach and Mickey Morandini was first-base coach.

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

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MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve has won the American League MVP award, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Altuve batted a major league-best .346. He hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs, scored 112 times, stole 32 bases and showed a sharp glove at second base.

The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third. The award was announced Thursday.

Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first World Series championship. Voting for these honors was completed before the postseason began.

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP award, barely edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the closest MVP vote since 1979, Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. Stanton led the big leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs (see full story).

MLB: Manfred says pace changes will happen with or without union
Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

There are ongoing talks for a new posting system with Japan to replace the deal that expired Nov. 1, one that would allow star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani to leave the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters to sign with a big league team (see full story).

Mariners: Team makes trade, raises available money for Japan's Otani​
The Seattle Mariners have gained more flexibility if they want to try to sign star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani.

They acquired an additional $500,000 for their international signing bonus pool from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira.

Otani, a 23-year-old right-hander, would be limited to a minor league contract with a signing bonus under Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The trade announced Thursday increases the Mariners' available money for a signing bonus to $1,557,500. Seattle has spent $3,942,500 on bonuses in the signing year that started July 2 from a pool that rose to $5.5 million with the trade.

The 24-year-old Vieira made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against Baltimore on Aug. 14, his only big league appearance. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 29 games this year for Double-A Arkansas and 0-1 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma.

Chicago is restricted to a maximum $300,000 signing bonus because it exceeded its pool in a previous year under the old labor contract.