New Indians pitching coach keeping status quo

Willis inherits staff that has been among baseball's best the past five years

February 16th, 2018

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Carl Willis is not coming to camp with plans of making any drastic changes to the approach of the Indians' pitchers. For the most part, Cleveland's new pitching coach is inheriting a veteran staff, so the primary goal is to keep the group's collective success rolling.

"You don't want to mess with success," Willis said Friday. "When the time comes to make adjustments, we're equipped, and we will make those adjustments. But, I think veteran guys, you have to work with them and learn them and you have to trust them. And when you do that, then you earn their trust, and it opens doors."

Indians' Spring Training information

Willis is taking over for Mickey Callaway, who was hired to be the Mets' new manager in the offseason. During the past five years under Callaway's watch, Cleveland's pitching staff led the Majors in strikeouts (7,248) and complete games (32), while ranking first in the American League in ERA (3.64), strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.14) and wins (454).

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Prior to Spring Training, Willis not only familiarized himself with the pitching staff via video, data and conversations with the Indians' front office, but he even reached out to Callaway. Willis previously filled the same role with Cleveland from 2003-09 and worked as a pitching coach for the Mariners (2010-13) and Red Sox (2015-17).

"He has spent a ton of time preparing for Spring Training," Indians general manager Mike Chernoff said, "and communicating with our pitchers to understand what makes them tick or what they need, and to understand what was done in the past. So, he has the style that fits in here. We know him well. He knows a lot of our guys well. At the same time, he's put in the hard work to prepare himself for this."

Willis said it helps that his own philosophies on pitching took shape during his first stint with Cleveland.

"Mickey did a tremendous job with this staff," Willis said. "But, I just feel that my foundation as a coach and what I believe to be important, I don't think that has changed here. Maybe how we attack the game has forced some changes in that regard, but just in terms of how to communicate and how to coach, this is where I learned it. So, I don't feel that's a challenge."

Other items of note

• More position players arrived at camp for the Indians on Friday. All-Star shortstop was on hand, along with outfielder and infielders and , among others. Position players are required to report Sunday, with the first full-squad workout slated for Monday.

• The Indians have sold the contract of right-hander to the Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization. Bonilla, who was a non-roster invitee for Cleveland this spring, has a 6.28 ERA in 15 career big leagues games during stints with the Rangers (2014) and Reds (2017).

• Major League Baseball announced Friday that Indians Minor League outfielder Carlos Ventura (rookie-level Dominican Summer League) received a 72-game suspension for testing positive for Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.