The Cubs' coaching staff shakeup continued this offseason with pitching coach Jim Hickey leaving for personal reasons, according to a statement from the Cubs.
Hickey - a Chicago native - spent just the one year as pitching coach of the Cubs after serving in the same capacity with the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays for 11 seasons.
“Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons," Theo Epstein said in the team's statement. "We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”
Hickey's departure from the Cubs has been rumored for weeks before he stepped down of his own accord three days before Thanksgiving.
Still, this is another surprising shakeup on the Cubs coaching staff after Epstein stressed the importance of continuity within the organization following the Cubs' final game.
Since being ousted from the postseason after the National League Wild-Card contest, the Cubs have already replaced their hitting coach - hiring Anthony Iapoce for the departed Chili Davis - watched their assistant hitting coach (Andy Haines) leave for a promotion with division rival Milwaukee and are now in the same boat on the pitching staff, creating a situation where there will be a third different voice coaching pitchers in the span of roughly a calendar year.
In Hickey's one year with the Cubs, the bullpen led baseball in ERA but faded down the stretch due in part to injuries and overuse. The rotation struggled in the first half, ranking 26th in the league in innings pitching as a unit, too often failing to pitch deep into ballgames. But the starting staff stabilized once the Cubs traded for Cole Hamels and was a major strength of the team for the final two months of 2018.