New job with Dodgers has Prior excited for '18
New Dodgers bullpen coach Mark Prior joined MLB Network on Wednesday to discuss the transition to his role with the World Series runners-up.
Prior, who pitched for the Cubs for five seasons from 2002-06 and served as the Padres' pitching coordinator for three years before joining Los Angeles, expressed enthusiasm about building relationships with the Dodgers' players and coaches. He is also thrilled to be reuniting with Dave Roberts, who he worked alongside for two years in San Diego.
Prior said the pairing between him and the Dodgers came together rather quickly, and as he spoke more to the club about overseeing the team's bullpen in 2018, he needed less than a week to decide it was the right fit.
"It happened pretty [quickly] over a couple days, and next thing you know, they offered me the job and I took it," Prior said. "I'm excited about the role. I'm excited to work with Dave Roberts and his staff, work under [Rick] Honeycutt and see how the Dodgers go out and prepare to try and win ballgames every day."
A former All-Star, Prior emphasized the importance on getting players to trust his guidance. He believes that will be the easiest part of the move for him, because it was a large part of his job in San Diego.
"I don't think anything changes as far as building relationships," Prior said. "I think that's universal no matter what your role is in baseball. I think for me it's being who I am, being authentic and just establishing the relationship so the players know I have their back and they have trust in what I'm saying.
"For me it's about being honest, being honest in what I see and what I think and they know I'm coming from a place where I'm only trying to help them. I felt this was my job as a coordinator and I feel this will definitely be my job as a bullpen coach, that I'm there to serve them and trying to make them the best that they can be."
Prior's Major League pitching career was cut short at age 25 as injuries wore down his shoulder. He said he did not envision becoming a coach after his playing career, but he did not hesitate to enter the running when Los Angeles showed interest in him for the position.
"It's just been about learning, wanting to learn and wanting to help players and helping pass whatever my unique experiences were to other players and what can help them in their careers," Prior said. "That's really been my primary goal. … I just really look at every opportunity as they come and examine them and figure out what's best for me and my family."
The Dodgers gave the World Series champion Astros a run for their money in the Fall Classic that lasted seven games, largely thanks to their bullpen strategy and emphasis on analytics. Prior admitted he has a lot to learn when it comes to implementing statistical data and information on the field.
"I think more than anything, I'm going into it very open-minded," Prior said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how it works and how the data plays out. It's something that is going to be new to me, a quick learning curve that I need to get caught up to speed on with just how much information there is. Then, how to pair that in a very simple form that pitchers are able to grasp and be able to just go out there and compete."