BOSTON—Everyone seems focused on the status of Orioles manager Buck Showalter and Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette. It seems they forget other members of the staff are also in limbo.
The contracts of Showalter’s coaches are expiring, too. Pitching coach Roger McDowell, finishing his second season, and hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, who is in his fourth year, have been criticized by fans. Other coaches who don’t receive as much attention are in the same precarious position.
First base coach Wayne Kirby and bench coach John Russell are completing their eighth seasons with Showalter. Bullpen coach Alan Mills and assistant hitting coach Howie Clark are in their second season. Einar Diaz, who was an assistant hitting coach for three seasons, has been helping out in the bullpen for the past three years.
The one who has known Showalter the longest is third base coach Bobby Dickerson, who played for him in the Yankees’ system for three seasons 30 years ago.
Dickerson’s knowledge is admired around the game, but he knows the realities of a coach’s life.
The 53-year-old is finishing his sixth season on Showalter’s staff. He also worked with Showalter for three seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks and joined the Orioles as minor league infield coordinator in 2010, just before Showalter arrived.
“I’ve been in the game as a coach since 1994 full-time,” Dickerson said. “Every year since then, I’ve only been on two two-year contracts. It’s kind of the norm. You work, do your job the best you can as a coach and help players and help the team win.
“Every year, you go into the offseason with uncertainty, so that’s no different than throwing BP in your batting practice group or getting up and shaving. As a professional coach, it’s pretty much normal.”
Dickerson knows he’s not going to get special attention because of his contract situation.
“Everyone in the organization pretty much from top-to-bottom is pretty much in the last year,” Dickerson said “It’s a little bit of uncertainty. I wouldn’t really say I paid attention to all that. I’ve always just paid attention to my contract status.
“Four years ago just because Buck had four years left on his contract or Dan, it didn’t really matter to me. Mine was one year. My evaluation was separate from theirs … I really don’t pay attention to what’s going on.”
Because this year has been so difficult, you’d think Dickerson would be worried.
“This time of year is the same,” Dickerson said. “It’s a little bit different this year because we’ve had such a tough season.”
In less than two weeks in July, Dickerson saw the trades of two players he helped nurture, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop. He became emotional the day after Schoop was traded. Kirby is close with Adam Jones, who could be in his final week with the Orioles.
“I think that’s the personality of this coaching staff,” Dickerson said. “I know myself, I get really vested in guy’s lives and their professional career. I think relationship building as a coach is huge. If you’re going to ask players to do things [that are] tough, make tough changes, if you’re going to be tough on them, you’ve got to get to know them and understand where they come from. I’ve gotten close to Manny, really close, and Jonathan.”
Dickerson stays in touch with players he coached with Arizona and the Chicago Cubs.
“Relationship building is huge [in] coaching,” Dickerson said. “It’s not always hugs and kisses. There are some spankings involved. The guys know when you genuinely care about them, where that’s coming from when you get on them. I take a lot of pride in that, getting close to the players so I can tell them hard things, and they understand it’s coming from a good place.”