Revs part ways with pitching coach
After just a year at the post, John Halama is no longer the York Revolution pitching coach. Halama and Revs’ manager Mark Mason confirmed the move Wednesday evening when reached by phone. The Revs had announced the vacancy earlier in the day Wednesday after an MLB.com report surfaced stating that Halama is one of many former big leaguers currently at Major League Baseball’s winter meetings in Florida prospecting for potential jobs in affiliated ball.
“Yeah. I want to see what’s out there,” Halama said Wednesday evening. “I know there are some things going on in the Atlantic League. I want to see what my options are.”
While Halama said Mason “didn’t want me back,” Mason said the decision was mutual for Halama and the team to part ways.
“John was interested in moving on with an affiliated job,” Mason said. “I’m not sure if he got one or not and that’s the path he wanted to take. That’s a mutual thing where he’s interested in getting a job in affiliated ball.”
Mason said that decision was made in October, and he’s been busy since then trying to find Halama’s replacement.
“What I’m looking for is a guy with pro baseball coaching experience and somebody that’s excited for the opportunity,” he said. “I should say successful pro experience. Someone who is excited to work here and someone who has worked in non-affiliated baseball. I think those things are really important. The player procurement part, I don’t expect the pitching coach to get involved in that. Obviously if they know people and recommend players we’re all about that but it’s not really a prerequisite.”
Halama, 41, pitched nine years in the big leagues with seven different teams. After pitching the 2006 season with the Orioles, Halama spent six seasons in Class AAA and the independent Atlantic League before retiring after the 2012 season. Mason hired Halama to replace him as York’s pitching coach when Mason took over the managerial reigns from Andy Etchebarren following the 2012 season.
In Halama’s lone season on the job in 2013, York posted a 4.32 team era, and led the Freedom Division in strikeouts with 935 (thanks to Revs’ media guru Paul Braverman on these numbers).
“You know what? I learned a lot,” Halama said. “I had a veteran staff. I leaned on them. They spoke to me and filled me in on what they like from a pitching coach. I tried to keep them positive and keep them focused on the task at hand. That’s the biggest thing I tried to do and tried to learn.”
Mason said he expects to name York’s next pitching coach by Jan. 1.
“I think that’s real important when we’re starting putting players here and a lot of pitchers want to know who the pitching coach is. Most of the players are worried about what their role is going to be. Am I going to be a starter or a reliever? That kind of stuff.”
Mason said he and longtime Revs’ starting pitcher Corey Thurman have chatted about Thurman possibly filling the vacancy, but that Thurman will likely be in York as a pitcher should he return in 2014. Mason also isn’t a fan of player-pitching coach roles.
“Thurm and I have talked about him playing and coming back as a player. It’s really hard to be a pitching coach and a player. If it was some type of player-coach where you already had a pitching coach in place and he was more or less gonna help out. fine. When you’re are pitching you already have so many responsibilities to worry about.”
As for next year’s roster, Mason said he’s already chatted with several former Revs about making a return.
“I’ve talked to about 15 or 18 guys. Not all of them were here last year. With winter ball going on and better players involved in that, guys are looking for spring training invite of some sort (with a big league club). The smoke will clear by middle of January on what (major league) teams are planning to do, and that’s when guys start making their decisions about their futures.”
Mason confirmed that third-base coach Enohel Polanco will be returning in 2014.