Craig Counsell Completes Coaching Cadre with Two More Hires

Craig Counsell said during his introductory press conference that he was going to take his time when it came to assembling a coaching staff, a process that was drawn out in part due to all of his old charges remaining in Milwaukee. The Cubs already had several well-known and respected coaches under contract, but the new manager needed to get to know them all a bit better. Now, more than a month after Counsell was introduced at Wrigley Field, it appears as though he has finalized his staff.

As Sahadev Sharma first reported, the Cubs have added bullpen coach Darren Holmes and catching coach Mark Strittmatter to round things out. Holmes, a former big-league relief pitcher, previously served as Colorado’s bullpen coach and then moved on to the same role with the Orioles before serving as Baltimore’s assistant pitching coach for the past three seasons. He worked under former Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde during that time and knows a little something about helping to build a club into a contender.

Strittmatter is a Rockies lifer who was drafted by Colorado in the 28th round back in 1992 and worked his way up to four big-league plate appearances in ’98. He played for two more seasons before retiring, then got into coaching in the Rockies org in 2003. Outside of a couple seasons with the Pirates, Strittmatter has remained in Colorado as their minor-league catching coordinator and field coordinator.

The Cubs had previously hired Ryan Flaherty to serve as Counsell’s bench coach after Andy Green opted to take a front office role with the Mets. Most of the other coaches were retained, including pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, assistant pitching coach Daniel Moskos, hitting coach Dustin Kelly, and first base coach Mike Napoli. Sharma also confirmed a bit of information on another coach whose hiring was reported a few days before the Counsell coup.

Former hitting coach John Mallee had rejoined the organization last year and spent 2023 in Iowa, then came up to help the big club late in the season. He was then promoted to the MLB level to serve in an unnamed role, which Sharma has revealed will be the assistant hitting coach role left open by Johnny Washington‘s defection to the Angels. This shows a fair bit of humility from both Mallee and Jed Hoyer, which is pretty cool to see all the way around.

The Cubs should issue a press release soon with an official announcement of the entire coaching staff. Maybe now Hoyer can get to work on building a roster for those guys to work with.

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