Darren Holmes was the last of three coaches hired by the Orioles during the offseason, chosen to replace John Wasdin in the bullpen.
Perhaps the delay can be blamed on the process that led to his signature on a contract.
The Orioles said they weren’t going to rush through the interviews and stayed true to their word.
The first step was a phone call placed by Holmes to Orioles pitching coach Doug Brocail, which was followed by a series of conversations and face-to-face meetings that brought Holmes to Baltimore.
Director of pitching Chris Holt and major league field coordinator Tim Cossins became involved and the process rose to higher levels of the organization, including about 90 minutes spent with members of the analytics department.
“I heard they had a bullpen coach job open, so I called Doug and said, ‘Hey, could you put my name in the hat?’ And he said, ‘Sure, I’d love to,’” Holmes said during Thursday’s “Orioles Hot Stove Show” on 105.7 The Fan.
“Me and Doug, we’ve formed a great relationship. We played against each other for probably 10 to 12 years in the big leagues, so I knew him as a player, I knew him as a person. But now, getting into it, it’s a little bit different. Chris, I didn’t know at all. So Doug put me in the thing. I had a couple interviews over the phone, me and Doug. I had a couple interviews with him and Chris Holt. I had an interview with him, Chris Holt and Tim Cossins. Then I went to Baltimore and I had a formal interview with Brandon (Hyde) and then I had another phone conversation with him. And then I had another phone interview with Brocail and Holt. So I went through about 12-13 hours of interviews for this job.
“The one thing I got out of all the interviews - I told my wife when this was over - it was rumored that I was going to get a chance to interview for the pitching coach job with the Pittsburgh Pirates and I told my wife after the last interview, I said, ‘You know what? I’m not sure that I would even take another job. Everything about this feels right.’ I said, ‘I can’t tell you one negative thing about any of these interviews, about any of the people. This feels right to me.’
“My wife was very supportive and said, ‘Whatever you want to do, you do.’ From Mike Elias to Sig (Mejdal) to the trainers to the clubhouse manager to the coaches, it’s all been an incredibly positive experience for me and being down here, it really feels good.”
Hyde, entering his second year as manager, connected with Holmes via a shared philosophy toward a largely unproven staff.
“A message that Brandon sent early, which really meshes with my personality, he said, ‘These guys are young. They’re talented, they’re young, we have to develop them.’ But he said, ‘The biggest thing I’m worried about is working together and staying very positive.’ Because we know there are going to be tough times here,” Holmes said
“Anyone that understands what a rebuild is, it’s going to be tough times, and this is the best division in the East. So it’s going to be a challenge for these guys, but it’s going to be great for them because they’re playing against some of the best teams in baseball and they’re going to get a chance to be rewarded for good performances against the Yankees or Boston Red Sox or Tampa Bay and Toronto Blue Jays. It’s going to be a tough division and it’s going to be a great challenge for these guys. I’m know we’re looking forward to continuing to develop them and these guys are engaged and I look for good things.”
The Orioles hired Holmes after he spent the past five seasons in the same role with the Rockies. He didn’t have previous experience on a team’s coaching staff, but he worked in 2014 as the Braves’ biomechanics pitching consultant.
The Rockies replaced Holmes last month with minor league pitching coordinator Darryl Scott. One door closes ...
“I’m really excited about it,” Holmes said. “It really intrigues me because it is a rebuild. ... There’s some really good arms here. I’ve done a lot of work with these guys and looking at video and stuff. They’ve got a really good minor league system and some really good, big arms. And they just need to be developed.
“I think with Brocail, a very good pitching coach, a very good developer. Chris Holt has been working with us a lot. I’ve spent a lot of time with him and Brocail on video conferencing on all these guys and they’re very prepared and very organized. I look for this to be a lot of fun.”
Holmes has been in Sarasota, Fla., this week for the team’s annual minicamp. A nice way to get comfortable with the staff and the complex ahead of the Feb. 11 report date for pitchers and catchers.
“I think the main thing with a rebuild, especially with all these young guys, is you have to be very positive with these guys and you’ve got to pay a lot of attention to them and you’ve got to be able to answer their how and why. But for the most part you build relationships with guys. The guys still trust you when you do that. And then go to work,” Holmes said.
“These guys are eager. We have maybe seven or eight guys here right now, we’ve got a couple more guys coming in, and these guys are incredibly engaged in the things that we’re giving them and the message that we’re sending them. They want to be good. I think just talking with the guys, they understand what happened last year, they understand that they need to make improvements for this year and that’s what we’re working with them on.
“We’re identifying guys, identifying the things that they need to work on. We’re meeting with them one-on-one and having one-on-one conversations, and then we’re going out to the bullpen and we’re working on stuff. It’s real exciting. The cool thing about this is that there’s three of us who are working with these pitchers and all three of us are giving the same message. We’re saying the same things. That’s really huge in this baseball world because sometimes one coach can tell a guy something and then two weeks later another coach is telling the guy something different and you’re giving them mixed signals.
“I think by us being united, it’s really going to help the psyche of these young guys.”