The White Sox landed on their new manager yesterday, agreeing to a contract with Pedro Grifol. The team hasn’t officially announced the hiring of the now-former Royals bench coach, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets they’ll do so tomorrow.
With Grifol replacing Tony La Russa, the Sox are expected to overhaul their coaching staff. Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reported yesterday that a number of coaches weren’t being asked back, and reports last night indicated that Charlie Montoyo was joining the staff as bench coach. The status of La Russa’s bench coach, Miguel Cairo, remains unclear, but a few other members of the staff are known to be departing the organization.
Hitting coach Frank Menechino and catching instructor Jerry Narron will not return in 2023, reports James Fegan of the Athletic. That’s also true of third base coach Joe McEwing, as first reported by Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Previous reports have suggested that pitching coach Ethan Katz and assistant pitching coach Curt Hasler would be retained. The futures for Cairo, assistant hitting coach Howie Clark and first base coach Daryl Boston haven’t been publicly revealed, but Fegan suggests the departures could go beyond Menchino, McEwing and Narron.
Of the known departures, none figures to be more significant than that of Menechino. The 51-year-old has been the hitting coach on the South Side for the past three seasons. He’d also spent two years as the hitting coach of the Marlins and coached in the Yankees and Chicago farm systems. He’d held the hitting coach position under both Rick Renteria and La Russa.
The White Sox were a generally successful offensive team during Menechino’s tenure. Dating back to the start of the 2020 campaign, they rank ninth in run-scoring and park-adjusted hitting (105 wRC+). The 2022 results were more middle-of-the-pack, though, with Chicago finishing 19th in runs. They ranked 18th with a .310 on-base percentage and a .387 slugging mark, and only the Tigers drew fewer walks.
As with any coach, Menechino certainly doesn’t deserve all the credit for the club’s above-average 2020-21 success nor all the blame for their disappointing 2022 numbers. Still, it’s not uncommon for an incoming manager to make some adjustments to the coaching staff, and it seems likely the Sox will hope a new voice can coax a bit more patient offensive approach. Chicago’s roster is built around a number of aggressive hitters, but the team finished with the second-highest rate of chases on pitches outside the strike zone while checking in closer to average at swinging at pitches within the zone.
Turning to the other staff changes, McEwing and Narrow are both longtime big league coaches. McEwing has coached in the Sox organization since 2008 and has been on the MLB staff since 2012. He spent a few years as bench coach between stints coaching third base. Narron has previously been a bench coach in Arizona and Boston. He’d been on Chicago’s staff for the past two seasons.