Chicago Cubs announce Craig Counsell’s staff, featuring bench coach Ryan Flaherty: ‘I’ve always had great respect for him’

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Chicago Cubs manager Craig Counsell didn’t know Ryan Flaherty well when he began the search for his bench coach.

Counsell actually liked that aspect of the process, though Flaherty had a connection to general manager Carter Hawkins, his teammate at Vanderbilt. However, Counsell was more interested in how well Flaherty had done his job the last four years, explaining last month that he was looking forward “to a new and a fresh set of eyes there to help me see different things” with Flaherty.

He officially became one of four additions to the Cubs’ 2024 coaching staff Tuesday as Counsell’s right-hand man in the dugout. Flaherty’s eight-year big-league career ended after 2019, and the 37-year-old’s transition to the coaching ranks led him to the Padres, with whom he most recently served as bench coach last season.

“I’ve always had great respect for him,” Counsell said at the winter meetings. “He’s done really good things quickly in his coaching career. He’s earned an excellent reputation, and he’s been very good with players. I think that relationship that he has, it’s really hard as you start coaching to kind of separate yourself as a coach and still be great with players, and I think Ryan has done an excellent job of that.”

Joining Flaherty on the staff: Darren Holmes as bullpen coach, Mark Strittmatter as major-league field coordinator and John Mallee as assistant hitting coach. Strittmatter will also serve as the point person for team scheduling and working with Cubs catchers. Mallee earned rave reviews from his work as Triple-A Iowa’s hitting coach last year. It earned him a promotion to the Cubs’ big-league staff after serving as their hitting coach under Joe Maddon from 2015-17.

Counsell kept 10 coaches from former manager David Ross’ staff, most notably retaining pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, who is entering his sixth season in this position and 10th with the organization, and hitting coach Dustin Kelly, giving some stability to a job the Cubs went through seven hitting coaches in an 11-year span (2012-22).

Keeping the staff largely intact stemmed, in part, from a late start on the coaching-staff process when the Cubs hired Counsell on Nov. 6 and the conversations he had with coaches and talking around the industry about them.

“I felt like it was largely a good staff in place, and there were some really good pieces in place, and there were some places for growth on the staff that I think I can help with and really I’m looking forward to doing that with some of these guys,” Counsell said last month. “There’s some just really good tools there that I think we can use and hopefully make better. In the end it’s just to help players. That’s what our job is as coaches, and that’s what our coaching staff’s job is to help the players. Help the players be better at their jobs and I think we have some really good tool sets on the coaching staff to do so.”

The Cubs are also expected to formally announce front office hires and promotions in the coming days, which will include naming Houston Astros assistant hitting coach Jason Kanzler as their new farm director.


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