The Phillies will change pitching coaches for a fifth straight season after Bryan Price announced his retirement on Sunday, following just one season on the job.
Price, 58, said the challenges brought this season by the coronavirus pandemic accelerated his retirement. He lived in Philadelphia while his wife and daughter stayed in Arizona.
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“The inability for them to access me because of the limitations of the world we live in was difficult,” Price said. “That said it was clear to me by end of the season and the weeks I’ve been home that I’m just done full time on the field. I miss my family. I’ve been taking them through this since 1991. They’re great and supportive. It just doesn’t resonate with me anymore to spend this much time away from home.”
Price joined the Phillies last October shortly after Joe Girardi was hired. He came to the Phillies as an experienced coach and respected voice, but that was not enough to overcome the front office’s construction of baseball’s worst bullpen since 1930.
The Phillies could replace Price internally with assistant pitching coach Dave Ludquist, bullpen coach Jim Gott, or minor-league director of pitching development Rafael Chaves. Rich Dubee, who was the team’s pitching coach for nine seasons including the 2008 world champions, has an interest in the job and would bring a similar style to Price as he blends analytics with old-school teaching.
“He was great to work with,” Girardi said of Price. “Great attitude. The pitchers loved him. He connected with them extremely well. They don’t get any better than Bryan.”
The starting rotation under Price finished last season with a 4.08 ERA, an improvement from the 4.64 mark it had in 2019, but the bullpen had a 7.06 ERA. The Phillies used 24 relievers to cover 60 games after signing just one major-league free agent -- Tommy Hunter, for less than $1 million -- last offseason.
The bullpen struggles proved to be the primary reason why the Phillies missed the playoffs by one game, which led to general manager Matt Klentak being reassigned.
“I was full steam ahead,” Price said of his mindset coming into the season after being fired as manager of the Reds in 2018. “I was pretty beat up after Cincinnati. I wanted to finish my career on a positive note and felt optimistic that over the course of three years, Philadelphia would be successful, fun, and satisfying. It checked off all of those positives. In the end, I just didn’t enjoy being away from my family. I don’t have the drive to stay on this schedule anymore.”
The Phillies were already looking toward a busy offseason. They need to align their front office and possibly hire a new leader of their baseball operations department. They need to negotiate with catcher J.T. Realmuto, who becomes a free agent five days after the World Series, as well as finalize their starting rotation and rebuild their bullpen. And now they also have to find a pitching coach.
“It started to hit me sitting in my apartment this summer in Philadelphia all by myself,” Price said. “I went from the apartment to the park, the park to the apartment. I felt very isolated. That was not the sole component of the decision, but it heightened my awareness of the time I was missing with my family.”