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Indians begin search for Callaway's successor

Tribe has big shoes to fill after pitching coach joins Mets
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- Filling the pitching-coach role vacated by Mickey Callaway's move to New York as the Mets' new manager will not be an easy task for the Indians. Over the past five years, Callaway became a master communicator in the clubhouse, an expert at collaborating with the front office and the leader of one of baseball's best pitching staffs.

"We knew Mickey had aspirations to be a Major League manager and he certainly worked to earn that opportunity," Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations, said on Monday night. "So, we couldn't be happier for him. At the same time, it's a significant loss organizationally."

CLEVELAND -- Filling the pitching-coach role vacated by Mickey Callaway's move to New York as the Mets' new manager will not be an easy task for the Indians. Over the past five years, Callaway became a master communicator in the clubhouse, an expert at collaborating with the front office and the leader of one of baseball's best pitching staffs.

"We knew Mickey had aspirations to be a Major League manager and he certainly worked to earn that opportunity," Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations, said on Monday night. "So, we couldn't be happier for him. At the same time, it's a significant loss organizationally."

Callaway instrumental in Tribe's turnaround

Given Callaway's skills, and his desire to become a manager at some point, Cleveland knew this day might come. Now, the Indians' task is to identify a list of pitching-coach candidates who complement the strengths of the rest of the Tribe's staff. The Indians began the interview process on Monday, and also started to reach out to other teams to seek permission to interview external candidates.

Antonetti declined to delve into any specifics in regard to Cleveland's search for Callaway's replacement, but there are a few internal candidates who could get a look.

On the Major League coaching staff, the Indians have bullpen coach Jason Bere, who has worked alongside Callaway for the past three seasons, and Scott Atchison, the team's Major League advance coach and staff assistant. For the past two years, Atchison has worked closely with Callaway and Bere in developing advance reports for the team. Two more possibilities within the organization are Steve Karsay (Triple-A pitching coach) and Ruben Niebla (Minor League pitching coordinator).

Looking outside the Indians' organization, former Red Sox manager John Farrell would appear to be an obvious candidate on the surface. Farrell has ties to the Indians organization, and was Indians manager Terry Francona's pitching coach for four years during their days in Boston. Farrell and Francona remain close friends. All of that said, Cleveland is expected to go in another direction.

When Francona came aboard as the Indians' manager prior to the 2013 season, he was considering Kirk Champion (currently working in the White Sox player-development department) for the pitching-coach job before being blown away by Callaway during interviews. Another coach with ties to Francona is Curt Young, who was his pitching coach in Boston in 2011 and was let go by the A's this past season. Other pitching coaches recently removed from that role with their former clubs include Mike Maddux, Chris Bosio, Jim Hickey and Dave Righetti.

Video: Feinsand breaks down Mets hiring Callaway

Antonetti said Callaway's impact will be felt for years.

"It was the way in which he approached coaching," Antonetti said. "I think Mickey really focused on and thought about, 'What do I as a coach need to do to help this player as an individual develop and grow and improve?' And he did an extraordinary job of utilizing all resources and being very collaborative in the way in which he approached his job. He never cared about who was right. He cared about doing what was right for the player.

"And he was exhaustive in his efforts to try to help players. I think that's something that a lot of guys within our clubhouse and within our organization have benefited from."

This past season, the Callaway-led Indians staff ranked first in the Majors in ERA (3.30), Fielding Independent Pitching (3.33), strikeout rate (27.5 percent), strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.0), strikeouts per nine innings (10.1), strikeouts (1,614) and WAR (31.7, per Fangraphs). Those last three figures represented single-season MLB records. The Indians led the American League in wins (454), ERA (3.64) and strikeouts (7,248), among other categories, across the 2013-17 seasons under Callaway.

"He wasn't trying to make two or three guys better," Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin said. "He was trying to make the 12 guys he had on the staff better and then let that trickle down to Triple-A to Double-A to Low-A to High-A."

During his introductory press conference at Citi Field on Monday, Callaway, 42, thanked a slew of people within the Indians' organization by name from ownership down to the field staff. The pitching coach then took a moment to express how much he will miss working with the pitchers he helped develop in Cleveland.

"When I was breaking the news to them about this, I was teary-eyed," Callaway said. "I cared so much about them and who they are as people that it was a very difficult decision, and that was probably the hardest part of this whole decision."

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

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