CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians on Thursday announced Ruben Niebla was named interim major league pitching coach, replacing Scott Radinsky.
Some of the players admitted they were taken aback by the news and quickly came to Radinsky’s defense, praising him as a leader.
“I’ll be honest with you, I was shocked. He had a really big impact on a lot of guys in this clubhouse and the years he had in the bullpen before that and some of the guys coming up from Triple-A that are here now,” said Josh Tomlin (5-8, 5.82 ERA, 1.41 WHIP).
Indians starters went 0-8 with a 10.44 ERA over the 11-game losing streak that ended on Wednesday.
It’s the second-longest losing streak in the 112-year history of the franchise.
“I can speak for myself. I know I’ve learned a ton from him. He got my career back on track and I know there’s a lot of guys around here that respected the hell out of him and we’d love to have him around, but that’s the business side of baseball and it’s all on us,” added Joe Smith (7-2, 3.11 ERA, 1.19 WHIP).
Radinsky has been in the Indians organization since 2004. He shifted from bullpen coach to pitching coach this season.
Indians GM Chris Antonetti spoke of Radinsky’s loyalty and work ethic, but said it was time for a change.
“We feel our pitching staff has not pitched to its ability. While that burden doesn’t fall solely on Rad, we felt that a new direction and giving someone else an opportunity for the balance of the season hopefully will lead us to a better place by the end of the year,” Antonetti said.
Manager Manny Acta supported that strategy, saying, “I think we were expecting, especially our starting rotation, to be better, and that’s all not on Rad. He can’t go out there and pitch for these guys, but you know, certainly we expected some of the guys to take a step forward and it just didn’t happen.”
Niebla, 40, joins Cleveland as one of the highest regarded pitching coaches in the Minor Leagues.
He spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons as the pitching coach for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers and is in his 12th season with the Indians organization.
In 2011, the Clippers tallied a team ERA of 3.94, the lowest since 1992.
In that year they also claimed the Triple-A Championship title.
Niebla played professionally for six seasons from 1995-2000 with the Expos and Dodgers.
(Fox 8 intern Gabriel Kramer contributed to this report.)