Carl Willis’ name has been oft-mentioned in the Twins’ search for a new pitching coach, tweets FanRag’s Jon Heyman. The 56-year-old Willis has held that same position with the Red Sox since the 2015 campaign, but Boston’s coaching staff under now-former manager John Farrell was given the opportunity to explore opportunities with other teams. Willis is no stranger to the Twins organization, as he spent five seasons pitching for Minnesota in the early 90s and enjoyed a career year with the World Champion ’91 Twins. Heyman also notes that the Twins have interviewed former Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, but Hickey’s ties to Cubs skipper Joe Maddon are strong. The Cubs also have a pitching coach vacancy after dismissing Chris Bosio following their exit from the NLCS.
More from baseball’s Central divisions…
- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein recently spoke about the team’s 2018 rotation and acknowledged a need, writes CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney. Epstein characterized left-hander Mike Montgomery as someone who will likely stretch out as a starter in Spring Training but “probably start the year in the bullpen” barring spring injuries. “And then at the end of the regular season, when you look up, he’ll have somewhere between 10 and 20 starts. And you’ll say: ‘Wow, Mike Montgomery was really valuable this year,'” said Epstein. As for splurging on the free-agent market, Epstein was non-committal when discussing a pursuit of Yu Darvish or a reunion with Jake Arrieta. “…I wouldn’t rule it out completely, and I wouldn’t rule it in,” said Epstein of pursuing a high-priced free-agent pitcher. “I would just say it’s not our preferred method.”
- Ankle surgery has not yet been firmly ruled out for White Sox center fielder Charlie Tilson, writes Scot Gregor for Baseball America (subscription required and recommended). Tilson has been beset by injuries since being acquired from the Cardinals in exchange for Zach Duke in a 2016 deadline deal. He tore his hamstring in his MLB debut with the ChiSox in Aug. 2016, and he missed the 2017 campaign after suffering an offseason stress fracture in his right foot and a broken right ankle in June. Tilson was at last able to play in the instructional league this month, and he tells Gregor that those games were a “test” for the health of his right foot. “There’s always surgical possibilities, but I’m just trying to take it a day at a time and keep doing the things that are working for me,” said Tilson. He’ll have some new competition next spring, as Adam Engel and Leury Garcia will be in Chicago’s center field mix as well.
- The Royals have been discussing contingency plans for the potential departure of Eric Hosmer and/or Mike Moustakas, writes MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. One possibility is for prospect Hunter Dozier to slide across the diamond from third base to first base, with Cheslor Cuthbert manning the hot corner. Dozier has seen occasional time at first base in recent seasons and could see some additional time there playing winter ball in Mexico, though assistant GM J.J. Picollo tells Flanagan that Dozier’s goal in winter ball is just to get as many at-bats as possible regardless of position. If Hosmer and Moustakas do depart, it’s also possible that Cuthbert could play first next year with Dozier playing his natural third base, says Picollo, calling it “a matter of how we line up best defensively.”