Cubs’ pitching coach Chris Bosio spent time last Friday on the Mully and Hanley Show (670 The Score) and discussed his pitching staff the day after the team’s first Spring Training game.
Chris Bosio has a reputation of being brutally honest with his players and he did not mix his words during his interview with Mully and Hanley.
Chris Bosio talked about what the addition of Jon Lester means to the rest of the rotation. The Cubs spelled it out to Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson that they needed to report to camp ready to compete. And he’s looking forward to seeing what Jake Arrieta can do this season with the way he’s looked this spring.
It was a group effort, from the way Bosio explained it, for the Cubs to sign Phil Coke and he was part of the process.
This is Chris Bosio’s fourth season with the organization and he will be working with his third different manager. Bosio did not consider leaving the Cubs because he would like to finish what he started.
On the feeling around the team in camp that this could be a special year
“Yeah, we got a good start to camp. Everybody’s healthy, that’s the biggest thing. As far as the pitching staff goes, we talk about it daily is getting yourself prepared for the game to give yourself a chance to get out there and play. It’s much easier and a lot more fun when you are feeling good getting into that first game. Finally we got that first day out of the way.”
On what Jake Arrieta did differently last year that put him in a position to succeed this season at the top of the rotation behind Jon Lester
“When Jake [Arrieta] came over we were trying to find a routine that worked for him. We made some changes. He bought in to it and once he got comfortable his stuff really took off and that’s where we are progressing right now. He just keeps getting better, mindset is tremendous. He’s in great shape and he’s looking forward to a really solid season and I can’t wait until he gets back out there because he’s been looking great in camp right now.”
On what it meant to the rest of the rotation when the Cubs added Jon Lester
“It’s always great to have guys that, of a personality of a Jon Lester. Been in the World Series, went through some ups and downs in his career but his presence alone and his work ethic has been great in the clubhouse. Need to remind everybody that Jon is going to be out there for hopefully for 37-38 starts this year pitching deep into the playoffs but it’s once every five days. Jon brings stuff on those in between days as well, when he’s on the bench, when he’s in the weight room, when he’s conditioning, his mindset, which is big. We’ve worked extremely hard here the last couple of years. Travis Wood, an All-Star two years ago, had a rough year last year but the emergence of Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and then some of the other starting pitchers that we developed that it enabled us to get Hendricks, [Justin] Grimm, [Neil] Ramirez, these are the really important pieces and then the development of Brian Schlitter. The backend of our bullpen also with [Pedro] Strop and [Hector] Rondon, our bullpen is pretty good. We’ve had decent starting pitching. [Tsuyoshi] Wada last year really came through with some big starts. But now adding Jon to that rotation and that pitching staff and our team is something that’s important for any team that is going to try to compete for a playoff spot.”
On how he approaches coaching veteran pitchers like Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson as opposed to younger pitchers the Cubs are developing, does he treat them differently?
“No, there needs to be change and we addressed that right after the season. I don’t know what you did last winter, because I am not with these guys daily, but you need to get back to what you did the previous season when you were hungry. So Woody [Travis Wood] this is how we’re going to start. Just like two years ago you will be starting the first Spring Training game, so your mindset is you better be prepared coming into camp and the same thing goes for Edwin Jackson. You have to start everything sooner. You have to get the mind working right. You got to condition the body. You got to be prepared to face hitters to get yourself more prepared because it is important that you get off to a good start for Spring Training. We don’t have the luxury of waiting to the season because of what’s at stake. They both understand that and as far as our young guys go, it’s the same message that I sent to them in an email. You have to be prepared this year because of the competition that we’re going to have. You guys are all going to be vying for spots. We only have a couple of spots open. These guys may not believe it but they decide the decisions for us. They’re in charge of what happens on our roster. They will make the decisions for us and usually it’s a pretty simple one.”
On Joe Maddon not buying much into Spring Training performance and is it fair to say there are jobs that are more likely to be lost than won this spring?
“When you have more of a veteran team I think that would be the case. We are just trying to get them ready. But being one of the youngest teams in baseball, I think that it’s important that these young guys, just for their psyche to get off on a good start. I think it is important, especially for our pitchers because it could snowball and get out of control. One example last year who had a not so good Spring Training was [Tsuyoshi] Wada. Wada needed to go down to Triple-A to get right and he took advantage of a lot of cold weather in the PCL [Pacific Coast League], got off to a tremendous start, made the All-Star team and we brought him up and he found his routine and never skipped a beat. I mean he pitched very well for the time he was up with us. Kyle Hendricks didn’t get off to a real good start down in Triple-A, but then got really hot and when he came up did a nice job. [Dallas] Beeler, [Eric] Jokisch, [Brian] Schlitter back and forth, Blake Parker, these guys they are finding out about our system, what we like to do in our scouting reports and they prepare themselves for that through their bullpen work and then we can implement that in the game. The position players, that’s not my area. I’m the pitching and the catching guy, working with Mike Borzello, trying to get these guys in a position to succeed in the best way possible so they have good camps so we can level out that playing field and let’s let the best man win. Competition is very healthy for any organization and that’s what we have this year.”
On Joe Maddon being his third manager since he’s been with the Cubs and did he ever consider going to another team?
“You know I just want to finish what I started and we all want to do that and sometimes it’s out of your hands. Joe [Maddon] was very clear. ‘You’ve done a wonderful job here, I’ve heard about all, seen all of the guys that have been traded.’ We’ve had more pitchers traded than any Major League club in Major League Baseball. So, it’s a credit to the organization for being able to recognize these potential flip guys, as you said, but at the same time they’re Chicago Cubs and they are producing for us. It’s always nice in the winter time when you get that Christmas present or that card from these guys thanking you for what we, you, did for their careers and seeing these guys get these multi-year deals. It was great to see Jason Hammel believe in us that much to come back with the Chicago Cubs. Yeah, it’s a good feeling when they do believe in you and the program that we have. We just signed Phil Coke and the front office did a great job of presenting the information to him. He had an opportunity to go somewhere else and he chose us because of how we presented things. He did a walk-through here [Cubs facility in Mesa]. It was a group effort and they asked me to be a part of it. I listened, I watched and I answered any questions Phil and his agents might have. I answered them very honestly and I just saw Phil this morning. He’s in camp ready to go. So now we’ve added another veteran arm in that bullpen and I think, I know that’s what we are going to continue to do is try to make this club better. I know Theo [Epstein] is motivated. I know Jed [Hoyer] is motivated. I know everybody in this organization is motivated because every day we’re trying to get better as an organization. They said it and now we’re doing it and the players seeing it.”