Within a matter of minutes Thursday, possibly within the same minute, general manager Jon Daniels and manager Jeff Banister each referred to the Texas Rangers’ new pitching coach and hitting coach as “high-energy.”
Based on their introductory conference call, it was an apt description for Doug Brocail and Anthony Iapoce. They talked fast, voluminously and passionately about their new roles as the Rangers filled out their coaching staff for 2016.
Brocail takes over at pitching coach for Mike Maddux, who has agreed to a two-year deal with Washington, and Iapoce will be the hitting coach despite never coaching in the major leagues.
What they lack in experience — Brocail has two full seasons as a big league pitching coach with Houston — they will make up for with a high-octane approach to the game.
“I drink a lot of coffee,” said Iapoce, who was the Chicago Cubs’ minor league hitting coordinator the past three seasons. “High-energy, I’ve heard that a lot, and I think that’s just being excited about what you do each day.
“The energy just comes from wanting to show up every day. That’s your job — to bring energy and bring enthusiasm to the players no matter what the score is, no matter if it’s a win or a loss. The more energy you bring, the more enthusiasm you bring and the better atmosphere you bring, you’re getting the hitters to win every pitch.”
Brocail, 48, showed plenty of emotion during a 15-season career but said that part of him no longer exists. He tries to remain calm and support his pitchers, but at the same time, he said that there won’t be any days off.
Rangers pitchers will be expected to work at maximum effort in everything they do, not just when it’s their turn to take the mound.
“From the get-go, every pitcher that I’ve ever had will come to an understanding that we’re going to be aggressive, we’re going to pound the strike zone, but we’re going to do it in a smart way,” said Brocail, who pitched for the Rangers in 2004 and 2005. “When it’s time to work, it’s time to work.
“My philosophy is that we don’t throw bullpens at 30 percent, 50 percent, 80 percent. We throw it hard.”
Three of the four coaches hired Thursday have never coached in the majors, and all four coached in the minors last season.
But that wasn’t an issue for Banister, who said the new hires are well-versed in baseball and have been coaching for a number of seasons, just not in the majors.
“There’s always challenges, whether you’re a longtime major league coach or a first-timer,” Banister said. “The thing that these guys have is that they have been coaching for a while now. There are a lot of quality coaches throughout development systems that are the best coaches out there. They’re just not at the major-league level.”
Brad Holman and Justin Mashore will jump from Triple A Round Rock to be the bullpen coach and assistant hitting coach, respectively, and Bobby Jones will move from assistant hitting coach to replay coordinator.
The rest of the staff remains unchanged. Steve Buechele will return as bench coach, Tony Beasley remains the third-base coach, Hector Ortiz Jr. will coach first base again, and Jayce Tingler returns for his second year as field coordinator.
Banister referred to Iapoce as an offensive coordinator, someone who teaches the mechanics of hitting while also teaching the lineup how to score. He will emphasize situational hitting, a theme that has dogged the Rangers at times the past handful of seasons.
4 New coaches on the Rangers’ coaching staff for 2016
Brocail wants pitchers to work down and away first — but not abandon working inside — and get hitters to put the ball on the ground. And he wants them to do it early in at-bats.
And with high energy. That’s what the Rangers struck on with their new pitching coach and hitting coach.
“High-energy to me is a guy that, one, is ultra-prepared early on, that he does his background work early on,” Banister said. “But also as they show up for these players every single day that they have an exuberance for their job. That there is a passion that translates to their job. They show up and have something for these guys every day.”