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Hottovy pitching coach as Cubs finalize staff

MLB.com @MLBastian

CHICAGO -- Wrigley Field is not the only aspect of the Cubs that has undergone renovations. For the second offseason in a row, the ballclub has dealt with changes to the leadership structure of its coaching staff under manager Joe Maddon.

On Thursday, the Cubs officially announced the makeup of their staff, which was highlighted by the hiring of Tommy Hottovy as the team's new pitching coach. Anthony Iapoce was previously unveiled as the Cubs' new hitting coach earlier this offseason, marking the third different pair of pitching and hitting coaches in three years for Chicago.

CHICAGO -- Wrigley Field is not the only aspect of the Cubs that has undergone renovations. For the second offseason in a row, the ballclub has dealt with changes to the leadership structure of its coaching staff under manager Joe Maddon.

On Thursday, the Cubs officially announced the makeup of their staff, which was highlighted by the hiring of Tommy Hottovy as the team's new pitching coach. Anthony Iapoce was previously unveiled as the Cubs' new hitting coach earlier this offseason, marking the third different pair of pitching and hitting coaches in three years for Chicago.

Hottovy takes over for Jim Hickey, who stepped down due to undisclosed personal reasons last month following a one-year stint on Maddon's staff. That came after the Cubs parted ways with Chris Bosio after the 2017 season. While there has been turnover in the main role, one constant behind the scenes was Hottovy working closely with the coaching staff.

"Tommy's been a really valued member of the staff for four years now," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said on Thursday. "Tommy's a tremendous communicator, a great worker, a great teammate down there. He's got good relationships with the pitchers. He's a problem solver. He's really adept at using the vast resources and technology that we have at our disposal to help pitchers get better."

Hottovy, whose previous role has been described as a run prevention coordinator, worked with the staff for the past four years in the formulation of game plans, while assisting pitchers in daily game preparation. In the process, he also formed a strong rapport with catching and strategy coach Mike Borzello, who now has associate pitching coach added to his job description.

After exploring some external candidates for the pitching coach job, the Cubs felt that keeping Hottovy and Borzello together, and retaining long-time bullpen coach Lester Strode, was the best approach.

"Tommy, Mike Borzello and Lester Strode have been a significant part of our successful pitching infrastructure," Epstein said. "We wanted to maintain that continuity as best we could. Tommy was someone who was actually asked about by another club as a pitching coach. I think we would've lost him but for this move. That's not why we made it. He was the best person. And those three individuals -- Tommy, Borz and Lester -- those are the right guys."

The Cubs also announced Thursday that Terrmel Sledge was hired as the team's new assistant hitting coach, and Chris Denorfia was added as the new quality assurance coach. The rest of Maddon's staff is returning for next season.

Iapoce was the Rangers' hitting coach for the past three seasons, following three years in the Cubs' organization as a Minor League hitting coordinator. He and Sledge will aim to help the core group of Chicago's lineup get back on track after the team's offensive struggles in the second half last season.

Last season, the Cubs turned in a .265/.345/.426 slash line in the first half, compared to a .249/.316/.389 mark after the All-Star break.

"We're mindful that we want change in the way we play," Epstein said. "We want change in how well we play. We want real change in our offense. We want to learn from the second half of the season. We have a lot of ideas on how we can get there. Some involve help from outside the organization and some involve really digging in with the players and the coaches that we have and affecting change."

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

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