My favorite thing about Bob Apodaca over the last number of years has been the fact that he had three distinctly different ways that he went out to the mound to visit a struggling pitcher. The first option was a simple walk. When things were still relatively under control and ‘Dac was making more of a proactive visit before things got worse, he would walk, about a medium pace.
The second way, my personal favorite, was the half-walk, half-run. In these instances, he would ascend the dugout steps at a calm walk, take a few steps on the field, and then he would sort of fidget into a jog for a few steps. Then walk again, then jog again. You could almost see him trying not to panic, but still realizing he needed to get out to the mound quickly.
Finally there was the ‘Dac sprint. Think back to a time when a pitcher like, say, Franklin Morales in his day, had just walked three consecutive batters. No sooner than ball four hit the catcher’s mitt and ‘Dac would be four steps to the pitcher already. Sprinting. Full sense of urgency.
I have to believe that when Bob Apodaca requested and was granted his reassignment today, he exited the clubhouse the third way. Sprinting, probably shouting “Get me outta here!” in his head. The dude was running out of a burning building. Who can blame him?
Bo McLaughlin and Jim Wright will tag team the pitching coach duties for the remainder of the season. McLaughlin, the recipient of the boobie prize, will make mound visits and work with the starters. Wright will continue to work with the bullpen. Apodaca will now serve as a special assistant to the general manager.
It is difficult to tell how much of the blame for this season’s abysmal starting pitching truly falls on Apodaca’s shoulders. With things this bad, he certainly had to be part of the problem. But he is also the only pitching coach to sustain anything like success with pitchers in Coors Field, including a recent three year stretch in which the franchise enjoyed the best pitching staffs in its relatively young history. For my part, I will miss Apodaca, even while I understand that it might have been time for a change for everybody involved.
Here is how I imagine ‘Dac’s first conversation with Dan O’Dowd as his special assistant going:
O’Dowd: “OK Bob, you’re on. What do you suggest as my new special assistant?”
Apodaca: “I suggest you get better starting pitching. You took years off of your old pitching coach’s life, while also pushing him to request a new job, with the band of stiffs you put together this year. Whatever your system is, it’s broke and it needs fixin’ homie.”