Wallace hopes to stay in baseball in his retirement
Coach says developing pitchers is his passion, but ‘it’s the right time’ to leave
Dave Wallace, whose retirement as the Orioles pitching coach was announced Thursday by manager Buck Showalter, said Friday that he hopes to stay in the game and didn’t rule out the possibility that could happen with the Orioles.
“That depends on what is offered, I guess,” Wallace said on a conference call Friday. “What I’d like to do — my passion — has always been developing young pitchers, be that in uniform, be that in part-uniform, part-front office, I don’t know. I’m not going to say I’m sure there’s going to be opportunities, but I feel pretty confident that at some point, maybe there — I haven’t talked to anyone [in Baltimore] about it just because this is all so recent, but somewhere in the industry. But I still love the kids. I still love developing the young guys.”
Wallace, 69, who took over as the Orioles pitching coach after the 2013 season, spent three years with the club, giving him 36 years in professional baseball. He oversaw a pair of playoff trips and a rotation that ranked sixth in the American League with a 3.90 ERAover his three years.
He said leaving the team’s group of pitchers — from young, emerging stars such as Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman to the pitchers who have come into their own under his watch such as Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Darren O’Day and Brad Brach — will be difficult.
It’s some of those relationships, he said, that make a return in some capacity to the Orioles organization appealing.
“Obviously, I’ve got ties in Baltimore,” he said. “You guys know Buck, being the best game manager ever. I think our relationship was pretty good. I haven’t talked to [executive vice president] Dan [Duquette] or him or anybody about that. We still have some time here. I guess at this point, we’ll just wait and hear because, like I said, some of the most difficult things are walking away from relationships with the players. That’s what you miss.”
However, family matters took him away from the team for around four or five days a month this season, and Wallace said that contributed to his decision to step away from being a major league pitching coach.
“There’s a lot of reasons why it’s the right time,” he said. “Things happen in your life where you want to just kind of smell the roses a little bit. Family concerns. We’re getting up there in age a little bit, and just wanting to not get to the point where somebody has got to force you out. So, I think greed gets a lot of people. I’ve been very, very fortunate and thankful, and talking things over with my wife, thinking this was the right time to see the grandkids, see our daughter through high school, and yet still continue to stay in the game in some capacity.”
His return to the Orioles was announced later last offseason than was the return of other coaches, and Wallace indicated the past few seasons have always ended with thoughts about his future.
“I didn’t make the decision [last offseason], but it was certainly a consideration,” Wallace said. “I mean, it’s hard to say. You always think about it. The last couple of years, you wonder, ‘ At what point?’ As you guys know, I had some health issues. That was years ago, but — knock on wood — thank God for all the blessings, I’ve stayed healthy. I feel good and still have energy and know the job can be done, but some of the things that came up at home with family life, I think we always look at where we are in our lives and want to know if we can find time to enjoy some of the finer things.
“That’s spending time with family, seeing grandchildren, grandchildren participate in sports, take trips — just do things that you haven’t been able to do in years. I’m not 45 years old anymore. You wonder how much time you have left to do that stuff, and while you’re physically active and able to do some of it as well.”
Showalter, at the team’s end-of-season news conference Thursday, said the search for a new pitching coach would begin soon, with the first step being a look at internal candidates. Although Showalter praised bullpen coach Dom Chiti as an obvious candidate, it was unclear whether the team is willing to move him from his current role.
Said Wallace: “I think with the ability Dom has, he can do almost anything he wants. He is such an astute baseball/ pitching guy, my goodness gracious. I’m not ever going to speak for him, because he can pick and choose his own, but he’d be good at anything he does. I’m not surprised if he’s one of the stronger candidates, but you’d have to talk to Buck and Dom. My goodness gracious. And I know the respect he has within that clubhouse with the players.”
NOTE: Barely two days after their season ended, the Orioles’ quest to add players through any means available during the offseason has already begun. The team announced Friday that lefthander Jed Bradley, a 2011 first-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers, was claimed off waivers from the Atlanta Braves. To make room for Bradley, the Orioles designated infielder Paul Janish for assignment. Bradley, 26, made his major league debut this season for Atlanta after the Braves purchased him from Milwaukee in June. He allowed four runs over seven innings in seven appearances for the Braves, though he had some success working as a starting pitcher for Atlanta’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates once he switched organizations.