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Veteran Rothschild set to shepherd young arms

Postseason pedigree, managerial experience a boon for Padres
@AJCassavell
February 16, 2020

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres deeply hold their belief that the group of pitchers in camp this spring is largely the same group of pitchers that will launch the team into contention. The timetable is unclear. But Padres camp features a handful of the game's best pitching prospects, plus exciting

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres deeply hold their belief that the group of pitchers in camp this spring is largely the same group of pitchers that will launch the team into contention. The timetable is unclear. But Padres camp features a handful of the game's best pitching prospects, plus exciting young arms like Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet.

Still, you can heap whatever platitudes you'd like upon that group, but the fact remains: They haven't accomplished much of anything in the big leagues just yet.

Their new pitching coach has.

In a dramatic shakeup this offseason, San Diego parted ways with former pitching coach Darren Balsley, after he spent 17 seasons in that role. Larry Rothschild had been let go by the Yankees, and the Padres swiftly handed him the keys to their high-upside group of pitchers.

In doing so, they placed a significant amount of trust in Rothschild, who will be tasked with the development of young arms like MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patiño, the Padres' No. 1 and 3 prospect, respectively. Perhaps Rothschild has earned that trust.

He has spent more than three decades as a coach in the big leagues, earning a World Series ring as bullpen coach with Cincinnati in 1990 and pitching instructor with Florida in '97. Rothschild spent the past nine seasons with the Yankees, with whom he reached the postseason six times.

"He's got a track record of success," said veteran right-hander Craig Stammen. "We're trying to put a winning culture together. Well, he's got a lot of winning on his resume."

It was a whirlwind offseason for Rothschild, who was hired in early November then spent the next couple months making trips to San Diego, Peoria and even Austin, Texas, for Paddack's first bullpen session.

"It was definitely busier than normal," Rothschild said. "But it was good. It's kind of refreshing to see all these new guys. Change isn't always the worst thing."

Rothschild barely had time to reflect on the way things ended in New York. The Yankees were knocked out of the postseason on October 19 on Jose Altuve's now infamous walk-off home run. Nine days later, Rothschild was let go by New York, and 11 days after that, he was hired by the Padres.

"I've thought about it a little bit recently, just because there's been so much written and said about what happened in Houston," Rothschild said. "But my eyes are set forward. Most of my career, I haven't looked back. This is going to be the same."

The Padres are fine with that. After nine straight losing seasons, they're doing their best to look forward, too. But there are plenty of question marks around this year's pitching staff.

Gore putting in work to follow Paddack's path

The Padres opted not to make any significant additions to their rotation this winter. Instead, they built a deep bullpen -- similar to the one Rothschild ran in New York -- while keeping opportunity available for their young starters to break through.

"There's a group here that's really good, and I think it's a really good situation," Rothschild said. "Chris is already in the Major Leagues, and you've got some other younger guys in the Major Leagues.

"But there's a group coming, too. You’ve created a situation where, if you have good young starting pitching, you're already ahead of 90 percent of the teams in baseball."

Right now, Paddack is the headliner of that group, and he’s taken quickly to Rothschild. The two met over lunch in Austin in January, just before the unofficial start of Paddack’s throwing program.

"He's old school, man, and we connected really well," Paddack said. "... I'm really excited to pick his brain, just because he's been around some elite athletes, elite pitchers. He knows this game. He knows what it's like to be in those October runs."

Rothschild isn't merely inheriting a young pitching staff. He's joining a first-time manager, too, in new Padres skipper Jayce Tingler. On multiple occasions this spring, Tingler has expressed a desire to lean heavily on his veteran coaching staff.

Among that group, Rothschild brings the most managerial experience. He helmed the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 1998 through 2001, the first four seasons of their existence. Since then, he's reached the postseason nine times in 17 years with the Cubs and Yankees. That wealth of knowledge is available for Tingler any time he wants it.

"He's open and hungry for knowledge no matter where it's coming from," Rothschild said. "Look, understanding that job, having done it, it helps. I know what he goes through. ... I'm here to help him any way I can.

"But I also know the best way to help him is to have pitchers pitching well. The rest will take care of itself."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.