Cubs’ pitching coach Chris Bosio joined Bruce Levine and Wayne Randazzo during Saturday’s Inside the Clubhouse (670 The Score) to discuss his staff before Spring Training begins.
Chris Bosio tells it the way it is. Bosio has produced results during his three seasons with the Cubs. And the front office values the pitching infrastructure of Chris Bosio, Lester Strode and Mike Borzello.
Chris Bosio spoke highly of Welington Castillo while admitting the team needed to add the veteran leadership behind the plate. Bosio thinks Jake Arrieta is poised for his best season in the big leagues and he discussed what he expects from his pitching staff.
And for Chris Bosio, he knows there is a lot on the line and it’s time for the Cubs to win ballgames.
On the James Shields rumor and wouldn’t he be a nice addition to the Cubs staff?
“Well, it would be. We’re really making strides moving forward upgrading our roster if you will. From talking to Jed [Hoyer] and Theo [Epstein] just about our non-roster guys and I know our list just came out. We’ve done really nice things the last couple of years just getting to this point and it just seems like everyday something else is coming up. I saw today that we just inked [Jonathan] Herrera to a deal. James Shields would be a nice upgrade if it happens. I don’t know if it is gonna, like you said I deal with what we have right now. I believe I’ve got 32 pitchers coming to camp. I don’t mind having a 33rd guy. Actually, I think that’s his number, so who knows. It might be a blessing here for a 33rd pitcher we get into camp.”
On how much time he’s had to talk to Joe Maddon
“You know I tell you what Wayne we had some good conversations at our winter meetings. As much as he was being pulled around and his responsibilities he had trying to find a place to live, getting a feel for the city. A lot of excitement. He understands the youth of our roster but also the athleticism that we have on our roster but also the mix of veterans that we’ve brought in. Its exciting stuff as we’re getting closer to Spring Training here.”
On what the process is for a pitching coach working with his third different manager in three years
“Well as you know Bruce, Wayne, I don’t change much. I know what my responsibilities are to the organization. The managers, three managers in the years, it is what it is. I’ve been blessed to have some pretty good guys to work with. Dale [Sveum] and I, having our relationship going all the way back to high school. It’s change because that’s baseball. I’m a baseball player, in my 33rd year in the game. Rosters change every year and unfortunately for us we’ve had a couple of different managers in there, but Dale and Rick [Renteria] are good baseball people and I just look at it like we’ve got another good baseball person coming in that seat, he’s just got a little more experience as a manager than the previous two guys.”
On how much the catching situation impacts him and what does adding Miguel Montero provide him with and how does he think Montero will help the team?
“Well, first and foremost Welington Castillo has worked his absolute tail off for us and really is responsible for a lot of our guys getting better, especially the six starters that we’ve traded. I don’t think there is a better blocker in the game. I think he’s the best blocker, when that ball gets in the dirt, which is a big part of our philosophy on chase pitches. Big reason why we don’t have a lot of, we don’t give a lot of slug. We try to stay away from the slugging percentage on hitters, which is again our main philosophy. But getting [Miguel] Montero, getting [David] Ross, another guy we picked up Taylor Teagarden, we’ve got some veteran guys there and they’re older guys. They’ve been around the block. But for me, the most important thing is they’ve been to the next level. They know what it’s like and that’s what we’ve got to have. We’ve got to have guys that have gotten a taste of what it’s like coming down the stretch what it takes to win that one game to get in that playoff which might end up being in April not necessarily in September. It is so hard, it is so hard to win a Major League game and I think the number one thing veteran guys give you is expectations. The other thing they bring you is this calmness about you because they’ve been there before. Not that Welington didn’t do it, but these guys have just a little more experience than Wely did.”
On Jake Arrieta and how does Bosio protect him and also push him to be the dominate pitcher he needs to be for 33 starts?
“Well it started in our exit meetings last year. We all know what Jake [Arrieta] did down the stretch in the month of August and September. The three no-hitters, the one almost perfect game. I feel like Jake is just coming into his own and I think he’s really poised for a big year. During our exit meetings I talked to him and was talking to him, I didn’t want to get too far ahead of myself with him. One start at a time, one side at a time. But what we talked about was I want you to take about eight weeks off, but in those eight weeks I want you to get back into your stretch, get back into your lifting. Don’t let that calendar, the pages turn and the next thing you know your five weeks out to Spring Training. What Jake did is he took three weeks off, started his workout regimen, non-throwing workout regimen and really started working on his core strength, his upper body strength and basically his quick-twitch muscle memories so it’s going to be there once he starts throwing. He’s about six weeks ahead of schedule where he was last year. Now, how we’re going to get him to that 200-inning mark, it’s like leading a horse to water. This guy is a horse. I think he is one of the better pitchers in baseball. His stuff, in a very, very good way is violent. It’s nasty. When he’s on there’s not too many guys in Major League Baseball that have the violence, the incredible movement on three pitches at the speed in which he throws it and also command. The biggest thing I was really proud of with Jake was finding his routine but being able to command three pitches. It’s hard enough to get these guys to command two, but Jake was able to bring a third pitch into the mix which last year was his cutter/slider which he basically changes the delivery of what he wants to do with the ball. That’s feel. It’s feel with power and violence, adjectives I love to use as a pitching coach. I think that Jake is poised for probably one of the best years of his career. Last year was pretty special but we’ve got to get him closer to that 200-inning mark. Normally you’re going to get about a hundred, excuse me a 30-35 inning jump for younger guys as a progression for their inning totals. So Jake might not get to that point after pitching around 150, but I tell you what we will take anything over 185 with the stuff that he brought to the table last year.”
On Bosio planting the seed in Jake Arrieta to be the leader of the staff and stepping up taking a leadership role with the Cubs
“Well, he needs to be in that [leadership role]. There’s going to be a lot more stuff, expectations that I have for all of these guys. Whether it’s Jon Lester, whether it’s Hector Rondon or Jake Arrieta or Kyle Hendricks, these are big boys. We got a taste of what good baseball is supposed to be like for the Chicago Cubs last year when all of these kids came up and our roster, I mean really started to come together as players. We were competitive in every game that we played and it didn’t matter who we threw out there because of the expectations we had everyday going out there. I agree Bruce it is a mindset and that mindset again was left with these guys on those exit meetings. They know I’m intense. They know I have that passion for winning and it’s time. They know it’s time. Even though I’m not talking to them every day, I know they can hear my voice telling them it’s time and your ass better be ready coming into Spring Training because there’s a lot on the line this year for all of us. We have expectations individually. I know our fans have expectations. There is excitement. I can’t wait to get down there. Talking to these guys and Tim Buss during the course of the week, setting up throwing programs for these guys, getting feedback on the bullpens that they’re throwing down there, talking to Edwin Jackson, talking to Travis Wood. We need every pitcher that we have coming to camp, including minor league guys that are there, all pulling in the same direction on the same rope. Then once Joe Maddon gets in there and talks to us and he claps his hands and we get ready to go, I think that’s the time all of us we just can’t wait for.”
On the good problem of having five pitchers competing for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation and if Kyle Hendricks is in the fourth spot, having four pitchers competing for the fifth spot in the rotation.
“I think it is great Wayne. Competition is healthy for any organization. We’ve had 10-12 starters come into camp and that’s a number that Theo, Jed and I always talk about. We’ve got to have, you got to go 12 deep. I think this year we’ve got 14 guys coming to camp as starters. Now some of those guys might swing to the bullpen a la [Neil] Ramirez, [Justin] Grimm, who were previous starters in the minor leagues but with the stuff that they have and command of two pitches it was hard not to resist throwing them in the bullpen because that’s where our needs were. But I remember as a young Brewer, me and Dan Plesac. We came up in the Brewer organization. We were minor league organization three years in a row and Danny and I were starters all the way through. But in 1985 Rollie Fingers retired and we got a phone call from Harry Dalton and George Bamberger saying, ‘Hey Rollie is retiring. We need you guys to get into that closer’s role and Plesac, you and Bosio are going to battle it out in Spring Training for the closer role.’ Danny had an incredible spring, touching 98-99 mph. At that time I was throwing 95-97 from the right side with a slider. They decided to go with Danny. They sent me to Triple-A as a closer. Well, I got off to a great start and had 16 saves in two and a half months. I get called up, walk into Bamberger’s office. He tosses me the ball and says, ‘Hey, you’re starting tomorrow.’ And I said, ‘Bambe, I’ve been closing the whole year. What are you doing?’ He goes, ‘Listen, I got you here didn’t I?’ He goes, ‘If you don’t want to pitch, give me the ball back and I’ll get somebody else.’ I said, ‘No, no. I’m good.’ So the next day I went out there and I had four and two-thirds innings of no-hit ball. I gave up a solo home run to Russ Morman, former Chicago White Sox and good friend of mine. By the time the ball hit the bleachers Bamberger was on the mound, had his hand out and he said, ‘You just couldn’t finish it could ya?’ And I looked at him, I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ He goes, ‘Just go get in the dugout.’ When he got in there he pulled me into the tunnel at old County Stadium. He goes, ‘Listen, we have so many starters in the organization. I know you like starting. I know you won 17 games in the minor leagues. I know you’ve led leagues in strikeouts. I don’t care about that stuff. The only way I could get you to the big leagues is through the bullpen.’ And I’ve told this story to all of my guys since I’ve been a Chicago Cub and even when I was a pitching coach with the Brewers or the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, is that opportunities in front of you doesn’t matter how you get there, just get there. In the minor leagues, you have to have versatility to be able to pitch in any role to help the big league club, that’s the way I look at it.”