The Royals tapped into their in-house supply of coaching talent to fill out manager Ned Yost’s staff for the 2018 season, promoting three members of their organization and adding a new role to a current coach.
The club announced Tuesday that long-time instructor Terry Bradshaw will become hitting coach after serving as minor-league hitting coordinator for five seasons. Bradshaw, 48, joined the Royals in 2000 after playing eight seasons in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He replaces Dale Sveum, who took over as bench coach last month.
Former major-leaguer Cal Eldred will take over as pitching coach after serving as a player development assistant to general manager Dayton Moore for the past two seasons. Eldred, 49, pitched 14 seasons in the majors, going 86-74 in 341 games. He replaces Dave Eiland, who was let go in early October.
Moore said Bradshaw and Eldred were both highly respected in the organization and worthy of promotions. He praised the energy and enthusiasm that each would bring to the staff.
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“Both individuals have earned the respect of everybody in the organization at all levels,” Moore said. “That’s the most important thing. They’ve earned the respect
“Terry has worked his way up from a hitting coach (in the minors). He’s been very loyal. He’s had a positive impact on a lot of people. He’s highly regarded. He’s going to bring an energy. He’s going to bring an ability to connect with players and work within their naturalness.”
Former Class AA Northwest Arkansas manager Vance Wilson, meanwhile, will become the bullpen coach, while catching coach Pedro Grifol will return to the staff and take on the additional duty of quality-control coach, a new role designed to alleviate the workload of Yost.
The four men join Sveum, third-base coach Mike Jirschele and new first-base coach Mitch Maier on the staff.
Bradshaw has strong relationships in the front office and throughout the organization, Moore said. He has previously been a candidate for the role of hitting coach.
Eldred, meanwhile, is relatively new to the organization, having spent 2013-15 as a special assistant in the Cardinals organization. He has worked as a television analyst and in other roles since retiring from pitching in 2005 but has never worked as a major-league pitching coach. But Moore cited Eldred’s experience playing for and working with former Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan.
“He worked with Dave Duncan for nine years, at various levels,” Moore said. “He just brings an enthusiasm and a freshness to work with pitchers.”
The Royals were seeking new voices for their staff as the organization begins a period of transition that could be marked by an infusion of younger players at the major-league level. The new direction meant searching for coaches who would embrace working with younger players. It also meant parting ways with Eiland, a well-respected pitching guru who is moving to the New York Mets, and bench coach Don Wakamatsu, who returned to the Texas Rangers as bench coach.
Moore said the club considered outside hires as it searched for a new pitching coach. A slew of highly regarded pitching coaches, including Tampa Bay’s Jim Hickey, Washington’s Mike Maddux and the Chicago Cubs’ Chris Bosio all became available in the last month. Hickey eventually took over in Chicago, while Maddux moved to St. Louis. Yet the Royals eventually settled on Eldred, sticking with a trend of internal hires.
“I think they’re well suited to work with players at all levels and difference experiences,” Moore said of Eldred and Bradshaw. “I think both individuals really know how to connect with players at all levels.”
In addition, Moore said Wilson, a long-time manager in the minors, had “earned” a role on the major-league staff. Wilson has long been viewed as a rising coach in the organization. He managed at Class A Kane County in 2011 and at Class A Wilmington in 2012-13 before taking over at Northwest Arkansas in 2014. A major-league catcher for eight seasons, he played for the New York Mets from 1999-2004 and the Detroit Tigers in 2005-06.
The Royals were also pleased to retain Grifol, who was not under contract entering the offseason. Grifol is entering his sixth year in the organization and fourth full season on the major-league staff.
He took over as the club’s hitting coach midway through the 2013 season before being re-assigned as the club’s catching coach in 2014. In his current position, he has overseen the growth of catcher Salvador Perez, who is in line to win his fifth straight Gold Glove, and handled primary duties as the club’s interpreter.