Hickey And Rays Part Ways After 11 Seasons
The Tampa Bay Rays and long time pitching coach Jim Hickey have elected to part ways after 11 seasons. Hickey along with bench coach Tom Foley and major league coach Jamie Nelson will have new positions come 2018. While Foley and Nelson will return with roles in the organization, Hickey will not.
“Everybody can understand the magnitude of the situation, the decision. The difficulty that’s entailed with all of them.” Cash said in a teleconference with reporters. “Obviously sensitive to each individual separately, but I think it’s very important to express the gratitude that I have and our organization to all of them as a group and also individually.”
Foley will step into a new role in 2018—his 23rd season in the organization. He will remain heavily engaged with the major league team. “I view him as basically invaluable to the organization,’ Cash said. “I could not be more appreciative to the impact he had on me as a person.”
Cash explained that as much as they value Foley, he felt that a change was in order and felt that the connection that he and Charlie Montoyo has developed over the last couple of seasons along with his experience as a manager would really be an asset going forward with the in-game decision making.
Nelson spent the last five seasons (2013-17) as a major league coach. He began his professional coaching career in the Rays organization in 2000, and that time includes five seasons (2003-07) managing Rookie-level Princeton.
When Cash was hired Nelson was thrust into a new role as an assistant hitting coach (along with helping the catchers). After removing Derek Shelton from hitting coach last season, the Rays felt it was in the best interest of the organization to continue and see it through.
“In fairness to our current major league situation, Cash said. “We felt it was best (with a collaboration of Nelly) talking to him, let’s change the message a little bit, change the voice a little bit, and try to do everything we could to keep him in the best spot in the organization.”
Hickey served as the Rays pitching coach for 11 seasons (2007-17), more than half of the franchise’s existence. Only one American League pitching coach had been at his post as long: Chicago White Sox’s Don Cooper (since 2002).
“Hick and I have grown together, I look at Jim Hickey very similar to the impact that Joe Maddon had for so many years.” Cash said. “I look at Jim Hickey as being right there in line with him. That combination helped bring a lot of success to the Rays.”
Despite the success Hickey has had with his voice, his message, and his teaching, Cash and the Rays felt it was time for a change.
“With our young core of pitchers that we already have in-house and that have the ability to pitch at the big league level and then our young core of pitchers that are soon on their way, I felt, we felt that Kyle Snyder could make a huge impact in that regard.”
Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager noted that the team has had a good run with Hickey but the organization has decided that “it’s the right time to try something different and there was an agreement on that.” Neander was emphatic that this move wasn’t about differing philosophy.
Snyder, 40, becomes the eighth pitching coach in franchise history, following Rick Williams (1998–2000), Bill Fischer (2000-01), Jackie Brown (2002), Chris Bosio (2003), Chuck Hernandez (2004-05), Mike Butcher (2006) and Hickey (2007-17).
He began his coaching career in 2012 and has spent all six of those seasons in the Rays organization, the last three as the pitching coach for Durham. In 2017, the Bulls pitching staff set a minor league single-season record with 1,421 strikeouts.
In three seasons under Snyder, Bulls pitchers combined for a 3.61 ERA. Prior to that, he served as minor league pitching coordinator in 2014. Pitching coach for the Class-A Bowling Green Hot Rods in 2013. Also, he was the pitching coach for Short-A Hudson Valley Renegades in 2012.
Cash and Snyder’s relationship goes fairly far back. When Cash was playing at Florida State, Snyder was an opponent at NC State. They were also teammates on the 2007 Red Sox.
“Throughout the last three years, Kyle and I have had countless conversations talking about young pitching coming up.” Cash said. “The feedback he receives from our pitchers when they are in Triple-A. Whether it’s a rehab guy. Whether its a guy making his debut. Or whether its a guy experienced going up and down. It has been overwhelmingly positive and I think we all understand we connect in different ways.”
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