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D-backs name Butcher pitching coach

Club looking to improve staff that finished 9th in NL in ERA

PHOENIX -- When he interviewed for the D-backs' vacant pitching coach position earlier this month, Mike Butcher had a detailed plan for how he was going to help each member of the starting rotation improve.

It was that kind of attention to detail that helped the D-backs choose Butcher out of a field of 12-15 candidates.

"I think our starters should have plans that are designed and made for them as individuals because they are individuals and no one guy pitches the same on our staff," D-backs GM Dave Stewart said. "If you can give them a plan of attack along with the assistance of the scouting report that's an ingredient for success."

Butcher replaces Mike Harkey, who was dismissed the day after the season after spending two years with the organization.

The D-backs had an inexperienced starting staff in 2015, which finished ninth in the league in ERA (4.04), 11th in quality starts (69), 10th in WHIP (1.33) and 10th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.43).

When asked if the D-backs' pitchers were all given the same game plan last year rather than ones tailored specifically to them, Stewart said, "I'm not too sure they were going in with any plan of attack, to be quite honest. So I don't know that they were all doing the same thing, or all doing nothing. I just wanted more from our staff."

D-backs manager Chip Hale said that during his interview, Butcher got him excited about what he would do to help the development of young pitchers like Rubby De La Rosa, Robbie Ray and Chase Anderson.

The 50-year-old Butcher spent the previous nine seasons as the Angels' pitching coach where he impressed Hale with the work he did with Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker and Tyler Skaggs. During his tenure with the Angels, Butcher had nine different pitchers make it to the All-Star Game.

A resident of Arizona since 1990, Butcher has followed the D-backs closely and though he had other possibilities, he narrowed his focus early in the process.

"To see the nucleus of the team, looking at the young pitching staff and seeing the potential that's there, knowing that they have a great defense already, they have a team that's shown that they can hit at the Major League level," Butcher said in listing the reasons he favored the D-backs. "I love the style of baseball that they play, what Chip has brought to the team. Good team, played them this year in Interleague, love the atmosphere and I think second to all of these things that I've said, I live here, those things come first and foremost."

With Butcher now in the fold, the team will include him in the search process for a new bullpen coach to replace Mel Stottlemyre Jr., who left the team to become the Mariners' pitching coach.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.
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