The Indians announced on Thursday that they’ve hired Carl Willis as the team’s new pitching coach. Willis will replace the highly regarded Mickey Callaway, who left the Indians organization this week to become the new manager of the Mets. Willis, of course, is a familiar name to Indians fans, having served as the pitching coach in Cleveland from 2003-09.
Following his initial run in Cleveland, Willis became a minor league pitching coordinator with the Mariners and, eventually, the pitching coach in Seattle. He’s spent the majority of the past three seasons as John Farrell’s pitching coach with the Red Sox, but Boston gave its coaching staff freedom to explore other opportunities when Farrell was dismissed from his post. Willis had also reportedly interviewed with for the Twins’ pitching coach vacancy before accepting the job with the Indians. As Cleveland.com’s Zack Meisel points out (on Twitter), Willis has coached four pitchers during Cy Young seasons: CC Sabathia (2007), Cliff Lee (2008), Felix Hernandez (2010) and Rick Porcello (2016).
As a player, the 56-year-old Willis spent parts of nine seasons in the Majors, mostly with the Twins, from 1984-95. He made a pair of starts as a rookie for the Tigers in ’84 but worked exclusively as a reliever for the remainder of his career, ultimately tallying a 4.25 ERA in 390 innings at the big league level. Willis, nicknamed “The Big Train,” was one of Minnesota’s top relievers in their ’91 World Series Championship season, tossing 89 innings of 2.63 ERA ball.