Dom Chiti had just gotten off a plane, fresh from 2 ½ weeks in the Dominican Republic, and can’t wait to get started in his new job.
The 54-year-old Chiti was named Orioles bullpen coach on Monday afternoon, reuniting him with manager Buck Showalter. Chiti was Showalter’s bullpen coach in Texas in 2006, and now, he’s back in a major league uniform for the first time since 2008.
“The big leagues are where it’s at. It’s all about winning in the major leagues. That’s what we’re in this for. I’m not saying scouting isn’t important, but the big leagues are what it’s all about. That’s where the money is,” Chiti said. “It’s exciting to be back on the field.”
For the last two years, Chiti worked closely with new pitching coach Dave Wallace in Atlanta. Wallace was in charge of developing the Braves’ minor league pitchers, and Chiti worked with general manager Frank Wren.
He estimates he spent 70-80 days in uniform last year, and much of the time was working with Wallace.
“We speak the same language,” Chiti said.
The Orioles were the last organization he pitched for as a minor leaguer in 1981, and the first for whom he coached a year later. After year with Baltimore, Cleveland, Texas and Atlanta, he’s back with the Orioles.
“I like his Baltimore roots,” Showalter says
Chiti admits he doesn’t know the Orioles’ pitchers intimately. “Not a lot. I’ve seen them pitch, but you don’t really know pitchers until you work with them and watch them pitch,” he said.
He’s excited about again working with Showalter, who praised his upbeat attitude. “Dominic never has a bad day,” Showalter marvels.
“It’s a very good feeling to be back with Buck,” Chiti said. “He has knowledge. He has passion. He has experience. He makes people around him better.”
Chiti knows first base coach Wayne Kirby well from their days in Texas. He also knows hitting coach Jim Presley and says he’s talked with bench coach John Russell once or twice. He says he doesn’t know third base coach Bobby Dickerson at all.
Showalter said he was sorry to see Bill Castro go. He complimented the job Castro did, but said that Wallace’s comfort with a bullpen coach was vital, and he was happy to get Chiti.
Castro spent the last two seasons as bullpen coach and was the pitching coach for the last six weeks of the season. He was under the impression he’d be considered for the jobs that went to Wallace and Chiti. He was disappointed that he wasn’t and on Sunday, rejected the Orioles’ offer of a scouting position. Castro will look for a big league pitching or bullpen coach job.
NOTE: Showalter will be inducted into the Florida State League Hall of Fame on Tuesday night in Daytona Beach. He played 56 games for Fort Lauderdale, batting .362 in his first professional season in the Yankees organization. He managed there in 1987 and 1988, winning the league championship in his first year.
“I think they’re giving it to me for longevity,” Showalter joked.
On Wednesday, he flies to New York for an event honoring Yogi Berra.