Jenkins in, Riggins out as Reds' pitching coach

Power promoted to take over as club's bullpen instructor

July 4th, 2016

CHICAGO -- The Reds dismissed pitching coach Mark Riggins on Monday and elevated bullpen coach Mack Jenkins to his role. Triple-A Louisville pitching coach Ted Power was promoted to take over as Reds bullpen coach.

Riggins, 59, was in his first season with the Reds after being the organization's Minor League pitching coordinator the past four seasons.

"An extremely difficult decision, and one that has really been a challenging one," Reds manager Bryan Price said.

Reds' arms take responsibility after dismissal

As the Reds play in a rebuilding season, Riggins was in charge of developing the team's young pitching prospects. While injuries have ravaged the rotation from the onset, the team's pitchers still underperformed as both the rotation and bullpen struggled mightily.

Price took responsibility for that, as well.

"We know the struggles of the pitching staff, and we all take ownership, myself included, Mack Jenkins and Mark," Price said. "We haven't been able to pitch up to the expectations of some of our young pitching. There's been a ton of challenges, no doubt. But we expect more. We're going to do everything we can in the second half of the season to make sure that these young guys get a lot closer to being able to play winning baseball than they have in the first half."

Cincinnati's pitchers entered Monday with a Major League-worst 5.51 ERA, a large reason behind the team's 30-53 record. With 144 home runs allowed, the Reds are not only on pace to smash the Major League record (241), they led the Twins (115 homers) by a wide margin. Cincinnati also has the league in walks allowed, WHIP and total pitches thrown. The rotation has thrown the least number of innings in the National League. Certainly that means the bullpen has logged the most innings this season, and its 5.95 ERA is nearly a run higher than the second-highest club.

President of baseball operations Walt Jocketty said there was not going to be a shift in the team's pitching philosophy, and said there are no thoughts about shaking up the coaching staff any further. The team has made several trades the past year to add young pitchers while the organization has drafted and developed more within.

"We brought some guys up here probably before we were ready," Jocketty said. "We just didn't have the veterans. We tried to acquire a veteran pitcher or two to stabilize the staff, and we weren't successful with that. Part of the blame rests with us in the front office. We haven't been able to find the right pieces to add. It's not been easy in our situation. Pitching, the philosophy is still to continue to develop these guys as fast as we can at the Major League level. Maybe Mack will have a different perspective on it than Mark did."

Jenkins, 52, is in his 30th year with the Reds' organization and fifth on the Major League coaching staff. He was Price's assistant pitching coach under Dusty Baker from 2012-13, and when Price was promoted to manager in 2014, he became the bullpen coach.  Jenkins will be the team's third pitching coach since Price was promoted to manager before the 2014 season. Jeff Pico held the job from 2014-15 before he was removed and replaced by Riggins after last season.

"Developing people's talent is about having relationships," Jenkins said. "I think I have a good [relationship], and we'll continue to build on those that I already have."

Acknowledging that his taking over is an awkward situation, Jenkins plans to move quickly to get pitchers to turn around their fortunes.

"The No. 1 premise when you sign in professional baseball as a pitcher is to command the fastball, and we haven't done it," Jenkins said. "If we were, you wouldn't see the number of walks, hit batsmen, home runs and wild pitches. We will get back to that No. 1 priority of pitching."

Cincinnati has been in an especially deep descent lately, entering Monday with four wins over its last 18 games. There have been nine games in that stretch where the team has allowed seven or more runs.

"I've got a lot of optimism about some of the young arms, but we can't continue to watch this type of performance," Price said. "It has to get better. This is an effort. There are still good, capable, competent pitching people here, Mark included, that just haven't been able to solve this riddle with these guys yet."

Riggins, who was informed of the change before Monday's game vs. the Cubs, will be offered another position within the organization.

"I told him to take some time and decide what you want to do," Jocketty said. "I value his pitching knowledge. We hope he stays in some capacity."

Power, 61, was not at Wrigley Field on Monday and will join the club on Tuesday. A former big league pitcher for 13 seasons, including six with the Reds, he has been Louisville's pitching coach the past 11 seasons.

Several Reds pitchers have credited Power with helping them turn things around after they've been sent down amid struggles.

"Ted has been with us for a long time, before I got here," Jocketty said. "He's got a very good relationship with a lot of the guys. It's a different relationship because he's taken guys when they've come down, and Mark, Mack and Bryan have talked with Teddy about what needs to be done to get these guys right. His job was kind of to embrace these guys and help them overcome their shortcomings."

Power's duties at Louisville will be filled by multiple coaches, including Jeff Fassero, Tony Fossas and Mario Soto.