Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio

The Cubs signaled major changes with the firing Friday of Chris Bosio, one of the most respected pitching coaches in baseball and a key figure in team president Theo Epstein’s overhaul of the organization.

Bosio’s firing after six years with the club was confirmed Saturday.

Bosio, 54, coached under three Cubs managers, overseeing a pitching transformation that became the backbone of a rebuilding program that led to three consecutive appearances in the National League Championship Series and the 2016 World Series championship.

“It’s hard to imagine that it’s come to an end, but I couldn’t be prouder for what we accomplished and how far we have come as fast as we did,” Bosio said during a brief phone conversation Saturday.

Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio. | Christine Cotter/Associated Press

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the rest of manager Joe Maddon’s coaching staff would -return. Assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske could be a candidate to join the Angels’ staff, a major-league source said. The Cubs were expected to -address their 2018 staff publicly by Monday.

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Jim Hickey, the pitching coach for nine seasons under Maddon with the Rays, is said to be in the Cubs’ sights as a candidate to replace Bosio. But Hickey also reportedly is deep into the hiring process with the Cardinals, and Maddon on Wednesday dismissed speculation that a Maddon-Hickey reunion could be coming.

Mike Maddux, who was interviewed for the Cubs’ managing vacancy that went to Dale Sveum in 2012, also is available after being fired by the Nationals in a purge of manager Dusty Baker and his staff. But Maddux appears to be a top candidate for the Twins’ pitching-coach job, according to insiders.

Bosio figures to be a fit for the opening in San Francisco, near his hometown. He has a good relationship with Giants manager Bruce Bochy, and former star pupil Jeff Samardzija is in that rotation.

And if Hickey doesn’t land in St. Louis, that also could be a fit for Bosio, given the intimate knowledge of that staff as a division rival and some of the relationships he has in the organization.

Regardless, Bosio’s firing clearly was Maddon’s decision. Maddon didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“Rest assured, every coach that [Joe] wants back he will have back,” team president Theo Epstein said in a news conference Friday.

On Wednesday, Maddon said he wanted his entire staff back.

“Of course,” he said. “The staff’s done a great job. Our staff’s been awesome. And it’s a tight-knit group. There’s a lot of synergy -involved.”

Bosio, who joined the staff in 2012 under Sveum, his former Brewers teammate, was instrumental in helping Jake Arrieta become an elite pitcher after struggles with the Orioles early in his career. And his work with Kyle Hendricks helped the command/changeup-reliant pitcher develop into one of the top starters on the staff the last two years. Arrieta won the Cy Young Award in 2015, and Hendricks was the majors’ ERA leader in 2016 (2.13).

Bosio, an 11-year major-league pitcher with a no-hitter on his resume, oversaw the integration of team pitching philosophies throughout the farm system and all injury rehab work and schedules for Cubs pitchers.

The Cubs pitching staff struggled with command this year, especially in the bullpen. The staff’s 554 walks ranked 10th in the National League, up from 495. The bullpen in 2017 led the majors with 4.03 unintentional walks per nine innings.

On the other hand, the Cubs’ staff ranked in the top four in the league in ERA the last three seasons: 3.36 (third), 3.15 (first) and 3.95 (fourth). And they ranked in the top two in opponents batting: .233 (first), .212 (first) and .238 (second).

Follow me on Twitter at @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com