Halos hire Rick Eckstein; David wants to help
ANAHEIM -- It turns out Rick Eckstein may have come to the Angels in a package deal.
The former Nationals hitting coach will lend his services as the new Major League player information coach -- a hybrid position that's essentially part game planning, part coaching and part scouting -- and, in turn, his brother figures to spend a lot of time by his side.
"First and foremost, when you have one Eckstein working for you, you don't have two eyes looking at you, you have four," David Eckstein, the Angels' revered former shortstop, said in a phone conversation.
When David retired as a player after the 2010 season, his main focus was to be there for his wife, Ashley, and her startup business, HerUniverse.com. But now that business -- a clothing line for female sci-fi fans -- is entering its fourth year and flourishing, freeing David up to fulfill his aspirations as a coach.
The Angels seem like a natural fit, given his history with the organization as a player, his apartment in Newport Beach, Calif., and now, his brother's presence.
"He definitely wants to get more involved," Rick said of David, two years his junior, shortly after he was announced as the Angels' seventh coach on Tuesday.
"His desire and commitment level is starting to ramp up a little bit.," Rick said. "He's talked with the Angels, they've expressed interest in him, so we'll see what the future holds for him. ... He's just waiting for that dialogue with him and the club to come together and to form that agreement as to what exactly they want and what exactly he can provide."
David spent the first four seasons of his 10-year Major League career with the Angels, starring on their improbable World Series championship team in 2002, and has served as a guest instructor in Spring Training the last couple of years.
The role of roving infield instructor, recently vacated by Omar Vizquel when he became the Tigers' first-base coach, would seem like a natural fit, but David is still not at a point where he wants to spend most of the year traveling.
David, 38, has turned down several jobs from other teams that require a very involved itinerary and said he simply "sees something developing over time" with the Angels.
At the very least, though, he expects to be around the club a lot more next season to be there for his brother.
"I see that happening," David said. "I've already had some conversations with the Angels. It's just going to have to be the right thing at the right time, and the right description. I definitely see myself around the park with Rick, helping him, and maybe sitting there with him at some of the games. I definitely see myself around the organization, definitely a little bit more than I have in the past."
But mostly, David was just happy to see his brother no longer be typecast as a hitting coach, a role he served in Washington for nearly five years before getting dismissed on July 22.
"I wanted Rick to get out of that position to actually show his mind for the game, because he knows all sides of the game, so I was very happy," David said
"I know the ability in how Rick can break down a game. He sees the game in slow motion, especially body mechanics, he can read people's positioning and stuff. And so in seeing that type of analysis, I know he definitely can understand, and understand why things are happening from different aspects."
David placed a call to manager Mike Scioscia to recommend Rick, but doesn't believe his influence played much of a hand since the search was done largely by general manager Jerry Dipoto.
Rick calls his new job "a multi-faceted role" with "many, many arms to it." Pregame, he'll meet with the coaches to go over hitter-pitcher matchups and defensive alignments, then help out during batting practice. In-game, he'll go upstairs to serve as what the organization calls "an eye in the sky."
"This role opens up more doors," Rick said in a phone conversation. "It shows people that I can think the game, it shows people that I'm more than just a hitting coach. Not to knock any hitting coach, but just to say my aspirations lie beyond just being a hitting coach. I want more."
Rick joins Don Baylor (hitting coach) and Gary DiSarcina (third-base coach) in manager Mike Scioscia's restructured coaching staff, which previously saw Dino Ebel get promoted to bench coach and Rob Picciolo (former bench coach) and Jim Eppard (hitting coach) get dismissed.
The Angels are still deciding on an assistant hitting coach for Baylor, who will have a major say in the decision, and will soon announce the hiring of former first baseman Rico Brogna as a special assistant to Dipoto.
"We are very excited to bring Rick Eckstein on board to our coaching staff," Scioscia said in a statement. "He has an incredible understanding of many aspects of baseball and will help us in a variety of ways. Rick will integrate scouting reports and have input on the defensive side of our team, as well as pregame preparation."