We have been waiting for the Cubs to make the hiring of Jim Hickey as pitching coach official. Today, that happened, along with the completion of the coaching staff with Will Venable named first-base coach:
#Cubs officially announce Jim Hickey as pitching coach. Also, Will Venable 1st base coach. Also hired Jim Benedict as Special Assistant to Baseball Operations.— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) November 21, 2017
Will Venable played nine years in the major leagues, primarily with the Padres, where he put up four decent seasons from 2010-13. He played all three outfield positions and was a pretty good base stealer with a career SB percentage of 81.3 percent (135 steals in 166 attempts). It’s a reasonable assumption that he’ll likely be working with outfielders and baserunning.
Venable’s father Max Venable had a 12-year major-league career in the 1970s and 1980s, playing for the Giants, Reds, Expos and Angels.
Jim Benedict worked for the Pirates and was most recently the vice president of pitching development for the Marlins. Here’s an article from 2016 that tells a bit about his career. According to this article, the Marlins traded Trevor Williams to the Pirates to obtain him only two years ago. Also:
Benedict was credited for reviving the careers of several pitchers while with the Pirates, including Francisco Liriano and current Marlins hurler Edinson Volquez.
Here’s even more on Benedict, who was at times called a “pitcher whisperer.” He pitched for three years in the minor leagues in the 1980s, mostly in the Royals organization.
Sounds good to me; the Cubs can use all the help they can get in helping out the pitching staff.