For the past three years, the Orioles have had a unique and successful two-headed monster in charge of their pitching staff.
Pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti worked together as co-pitching coaches, choosing to attack the group as one staff instead of separate units of starters and relievers.
Sometimes you’d see Chiti with a starter or Wallace with a reliever. Usually, though, you’d see them together working with a pitcher.
On Thursday, it was announced that Wallace, 69, would be stepping down as a major league coach and is looking to stay in baseball in a less-time-consuming role – with the Orioles or someone else.
That means the three-year partnership between Wallace and Chiti is over in Baltimore. They also had worked together previously in the Atlanta Braves organization, with Wallace as the minor league pitching coordinator and Chiti as a special assistant for pitching development.
Contacted Thursday night, Chiti said Wallace’s departure will be a loss felt by many.
“Not working with Dave Wallace is as big of a blow to me as it is to our pitchers. He’s a tremendous person who has taught me a lot,” Chiti said. “He’s a tremendous pitching coach and a tremendous human being. For me, personally, selfishly, I feel like I couldn’t have been luckier to have been with him for our time in Atlanta and our time in Baltimore. For me, it was a chance to become a better person.”
Like Wallace’s, Chiti’s contract with the Orioles ends this month. He said he has not been contacted by the organization to discuss his future outside of a brief conversation he had with Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter in late September.
“I have not been contacted formally about a position, but I’m sure I will at some point,” Chiti said. “We’re talking two days after the season ended, so it’s not really abnormal that that hasn’t happened yet.”
Under Chiti’s and Wallace’s tutelage, the Orioles bullpen has been Top Three in ERA in the American League in each of the past three seasons, including first in 2016 with a 3.40 mark.
Asked if he would like to stay with the organization and be considered for the vacant pitching coach position, Chiti, 57, said: “I’ll let other people decide that.”
At this point, he said he wasn’t contemplating whether he’d return to the team as bullpen coach under a new pitching coach.
“I think we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” he said.
During his season wrap-up news conference Thursday, Showalter said he expected Chiti would return to the staff, but he recognizes that Chiti could serve in various roles with the Orioles or another organization.
A former minor league pitcher in the Atlanta Braves’ and Orioles’ organizations, Chiti began his coaching career with the Orioles’ rookie-level Bluefield team in 1982 and since has worked as a minor-league instructor, major league and minor league coach, major league scout, director of player development and assistant to the general manager in Texas and Atlanta.
He left the Braves to join Wallace in Baltimore before the 2014 season. During that season, John Hart, for whom Chiti worked closely with in Texas, became the Braves’ president of baseball operations.
If Chiti were to leave Baltimore, returning to Atlanta in some capacity and reuniting with Hart seems like a natural fit.
Chiti, however, said his current plans are to continue working in baseball and keeping the same mentality he’s had throughout the years.
“I’ve always been a guy that’s willing to accept the role I’m given and do the best job I can,” he said. “I’ve always been a person that you tell me what you want me to do, and then let me go do it.”