D-backs announce coaching moves, promotions
McKay joins staff as first-base coach; Ward, Sherlock shift roles
PHOENIX -- The D-backs' coaching staff for 2014 is beginning to take shape.
On the day that former third-base coach Matt Williams was officially introduced as manager of the Nationals, the D-backs added a coach to their staff and announced the promotions of two others.
Longtime baseball man Dave McKay was named first-base coach, while bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock was promoted to third-base coach, and assistant hitting coach Turner Ward was bumped up to hitting coach.
In addition, the club announced that bench coach Alan Trammell will remain in his current role. There was speculation that Trammell might switch roles, but he will remain on the bench next to manager Kirk Gibson.
The D-backs are still looking for a pitching coach, a bullpen coach and a seventh coach that will either serve as an assistant hitting coach or a baserunning specialist.
McKay has a reputation for being an excellent first-base coach and outfield instructor, and the D-backs were in the market for both positions after dismissing Steve Sax following the 2013 season.
When D-backs GM Kevin Towers did his due diligence on McKay, he had Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein tell him how much McKay helped Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano improve.
"Theo said what he did with Soriano was something like he had never seen," Towers said. "He was pretty much a below-average defender and turned his game around defensively, and he credited Dave for that."
McKay has coached in the big leagues since 1984. He was with the A's from 1984-95 and with the Cardinals from 1996-2011 before joining the Cubs for '12-13. During most of his time with the A's and all of his time with the Cardinals, McKay worked under manager Tony La Russa.
"I've always felt like Tony La Russa is arguably one of the better managers this game has ever known," Towers said. "When I talked to Tony about him, he just raved about how good this guy is in all aspects. He spent 25-plus years at first base, so he knows that job very, very well."
Sherlock has been with the organization since its inception. He joined Buck Showalter's staff in 1996, two seasons before the D-backs fielded a Major League team. During '96 and '97 he served as the organization's catching coordinator.
When the D-backs began play in 1998, he served as the team's bullpen coach until being promoted to bench coach in 2003. The following season, he spent time as both the first- and third-base coach before moving back to the bullpen in 2005.
"The more I've gotten to know Sherls and have been around him in Spring Training and saw how he interacts with the players, I said you know this guy's got some great skill sets that you look for," Towers said. "Just good demeanor about him, players really respect him a lot. I think it will be good having him over there next to Gibby in the dugout, as well. I think he's very motivated by getting this opportunity, and he knows that coaching third is tough. I think he will rise to the occasion."
Ward joined the D-backs last season as assistant hitting coach to Don Baylor, who left last month to join the Angels as their hitting coach.
Prior to serving as the assistant hitting coach, Ward spent six seasons in the Arizona Minor League system, four as manager and two as a hitting coach.
"Turner is a star in the making," Towers said. "He was an incredible manager for us in the Minor Leagues. He spent a lot of time down there in the cage. I know our young guys really think a lot of him. Now, with a much more meaningful position, I think some of his leadership skills will emerge even more."
Trammell joined Gibson's staff as bench coach in 2011.
"I've always felt that the bench coach is kind of the manager's eyes and ears and someone that he has to have 100-percent trust in," Towers said. "We talked about the staff at the end of the year and I asked him how he felt, and Gibby was 100 percent adamant that Tram was the guy he wanted at his right-hand side again. When you talk to your manager and there's that much conviction, you've got to go with him. I think they're a good tandem, and Tram's a tremendous baseball man with great knowledge. I know Gibby trusts him a lot."
D-backs advanced scout Mark Weidemaier has left the organization to join Williams' staff in Washington.