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Cubs hiring Jim Hickey as pitching coach

This has been expected for almost a week.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The worst-kept secret in Chicago is now apparently official, according to Sun-Times beat writer Gordon Wittenmyer:

Lest you think this is just Gordo, the hire of Jim Hickey to be the next Cubs pitching coach is also being reported by NBC Sports Chicago’s Patrick Mooney:

The Cubs are about to close a deal with Jim Hickey that will make him their new pitching coach, a source familiar with the situation said Thursday, part of a much broader shakeup to Joe Maddon’s staff and a team that will need to replace 40 percent of the rotation and find a new closer.

The Cubs essentially limited their search to one candidate after firing Chris Bosio last week, knowing Hickey’s close relationship with Maddon, his reputation for helping the Tampa Bay Rays consistently develop young pitchers like David Price and Chris Archer and his roots on the South Side of Chicago.

The second paragraph of Mooney’s article basically sums up the case for Hickey quite well. Hickey worked under Joe Maddon with the Rays for eight seasons (2007-14), and before that was also a highly-regarded coach in the Astros organization, including being their big-league pitching coach from mid-season 2004 through 2006, so he was the pitching coach for the only Astros World Series team prior to 2017. In that organization he worked with pitchers like Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge both before and during their major-league careers.

This hire completes a pretty big shakeup of the Cubs’ coaching staff under Maddon, with the departure of Eric Hinske to the Angels and the dismissal of John Mallee and his replacement by Chili Davis, reported earlier Thursday. The Cubs also have a new third-base coach in Brian Butterfield.

That leaves, from among the 2017 coaching staff: first-base coach Brandon Hyde, bullpen coach Lester Strode, catching coach Mike Borzello, quality-control coach Henry Blanco and bench coach Dave Martinez. Martinez has been interviewed for the Nationals managing job, confirmed here:

Martinez, therefore, could depart; I suspect the other three will stick around, but I’ve been surprised at the swiftness of the changes this week, so that might not wind up being the case.

As always, we await further developments. In the meantime, welcome to the Cubs family, Jim Hickey. I think you’ll like it here.