Dave Wallace, who stepped down Thursday as the Orioles’ pitching coach after three seasons, can’t pinpoint one moment or one accomplishment of which he is particularly proud during his tenure with the club.
When asked, Wallace starts rattling off a list. He remembers meeting Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Miguel Gonzalez and Brian Matusz three years ago at the University of California-Irvine at one of their workouts.
“To see Chris and Zach come on like they have, I think is great,” Wallace said Friday in a teleconference with the Baltimore media.
Wallace paused a second and then talked about the transformation of Kevin Gausman.
“I think Kevin is well on his way. I think the light went on about halfway through the year this year, and he’s starting to figure it out,” Wallace said. “And, of course, Dylan Bundy, who really hasn’t pitched (much), but his baseball acumen, much to our surprise, is off the charts, pitching-wise. So those are the things that really make you feel good.”
Oh, and then there’s the relationship he had with Darren O’Day. Or how much reliever Brad Brach has grown from being, “all over the place with his delivery” to one of the most reliable set-up men in baseball.
The list could probably keep going on and on.
“It’s a combination of things, but those things stand out, those guys are tremendous,” he said. “And looking back, where they were before the ‘14 season and now what they are after the ‘16 season — making the postseason a couple times — it’s tremendous.”
Wallace’s staff’s didn’t have the greatest numbers, but the individual progression of certain players under his tutelage is undeniable. Those relationships, he said, is why it’s hard to walk away, but it was the best thing for the 69-year-old Wallace and his family.
“There are a lot of reasons why this is the right time. Things happen in your life where you want to just kind of smell the roses a little bit. And (there were) family concerns. I’m getting up there in age a little bit and just wanting to not get to the point where somebody’s got to force you out,” he said. “Just talking things over with my wife, we figured this is the right time to see the grandkids, see our daughter through high school and, yet, still stay in the game in some capacity.”
He’s not really sure what that capacity will be. All things being equal, he’d like to stay in the Orioles’ organization, but at this point he’s going to weigh his options and see what comes together.
“I still love the kids. I still love developing the young guys. It was so much fun being with Kevin and Bundy and those kind of guys and have a little bit of an impact on what they’ve been able to do. We’ll just see,” he said. “Obviously, I’ve got ties in Baltimore. … Buck being the best game manager ever, and I think our relationship was pretty good. I haven’t talked to Dan (Duquette) or (Buck) or anything about that. But we still have some time yet. So I guess at this point we’ll just wait and hear.”
Wallace said he would highly endorse his bullpen coach Dom Chiti – who basically worked in tandem as a second pitching coach – to take over Wallace’s old job if Chiti wants it.
“I think (with) the ability Dom has, he can do almost anything he wants. He is such an astute baseball/pitching guy that, my goodness gracious, I’m not ever going to speak for him, because he can pick and choose his own,” Wallace said. “But he would be good at anything he does. So I’m not surprised at all if he’s one of the stronger candidates.”
Ultimately, Wallace said he wants to balance his family life while not walking away from baseball entirely.
“It’s funny, because, probably for the first time in my life, I’m not worried about next year, where you’re going to work and what you’re going to do,” he said. “I feel somewhat relieved to where I’m just at a point I can check out the landscape a little bit and see what’s happening.”
In other Orioles news, the club claimed 26-year-old left-hander Jed Bradley from the Atlanta Braves and designated infielder Paul Janish for assignment.
Bradley, a former first-round pick (15th overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011) out of Georgia Tech, posted a 3.09 ERA in the minors this year. He also pitched in six games out of the Braves’ bullpen, compiling a 5.14 ERA in seven innings.
Janish, 33, hit .194 in 14 games with the Orioles, while spending most of his time at Triple-A Norfolk. If he clears waivers and decides to continue his baseball career, the Orioles could attempt to re-sign him to a minor league deal.