Rich Dubee is the first to interview for Orioles pitching coach, and after he gets his say, Carl Willis is set for Wednesday.
As Dubee was linked with Charlie Manuel, Willis was tied to Eric Wedge.
Dubee was Manuel’s pitching coach for nearly nine seasons, and after Ryne Sandberg was named the new manager, the Philadelphia Phillies and he parted ways.
Willis was Wedge’s pitching coach for 13 seasons, for seven years with Cleveland, the last three in Seattle, and for three in the Indians’ minor league system.
He took over the Mariners at the end of 2010, and can say that he coached three Cy Young Award winners (CC Sabathia in 2007, Cliff Lee 2008 and Felix Hernandez 2010).
Willis can apparently stay with Seattle if he wishes. He has a contract for next year even though Wedge is gone, but the Mariners have given him permission to interview for other jobs.
He lives in Durham, N.C. and is eager to move closer to home.
Unlike Dubee, Willis was a major league pitcher. The 52-year-old pitched for nine years for the Tigers, Reds, White Sox and Twins. He pitched for Minnesota when they won the World Series in 1991. That team’s general manager was Andy MacPhail.
Even though manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette have no ties to Willis, they should be impressed with his bona fides.
A pitching coach since 1997, like Dubee in Philadelphia, he had staying power in Cleveland, but because he hasn’t coached in large markets, he’s a more under-the-radar candidate.
With the Indians, Willis had not only Sabathia and Lee, but Jake Westbrook, who’s had a long career, and is with the NL-champion Cardinals.
Bob Wickman saved a league-leading 45 games under Wedge in 2005, and in 2007 when the Indians nearly won the AL pennant, Fausto Carmona (now known as Roberto Hernandez) somehow won 19 games under his tutelage.
Lee, who had spectacular seasons under Dubee, was 22-3 in 2008, allowing just 12 home runs in 223 1/3 innings with Willis there. The team finished 81-81.
Besides Hernandez, one of the best pitchers in contemporary baseball, Willis hasn’t had great talent with Seattle, though the Mariners have a lot of promising arms that are transitioning to the majors.
Willis is an alumnus of University North Carolina-Wilmington, and has a degree in park and recreation management.
With Dubee and Willis the Orioles have an interesting and extremely accomplished pair of candidates. With Texas bullpen coach Andy Hawkins and longtime major league coach Dave Wallace also coming in to talk, the Orioles have some interesting outside candidates as well as some internal ones to look at.