Cubs move quickly to reunite Joe Maddon with old pitching coach Hickey

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Jim Hickey, right, on the Rays bench with pitcher Alex Cobb -- a free agent also on the Cubs’ radar this winter.

The Cubs are moving quickly to arrange a reunion between manager Joe Maddon and out-of-work pitching coach Jim Hickey.

After firing highly regarded pitching coach Chris Bosio on Friday, the Cubs are scheduled to interview Hickey for the job on Monday in Chicago.

Hickey, a former White Sox draft pick, was rumored to be a target of Maddon and the Cubs as soon as the Rays fired him this month. Maddon, however, denied there was any substance to the rumors when he was asked Wednesday.

‘‘I have talked to Hick,’’ Maddon said then. ‘‘Just wanted to know how he’s doing, purely, because [his firing] kind of surprised me. It surprised a lot of us.’’

Asked whether Hickey would be on the Cubs’ coaching staff next season, Maddon said: ‘‘No. I called him to console a friend.’’

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Hickey, 56, spent eight seasons as Maddon’s pitching coach with the Rays, who went from last in the American League in ERA in his first season to second — with a World Series appearance in 2008 — in his second season.

The Cubs fired Bosio after six seasons that started with an organizational overhaul and culminated with three consecutive trips to the National League Championship Series, thanks largely to the strength of Bosio’s pitching staffs.

About an hour before the move, team president Theo Epstein said during a news conference: ‘‘Rest assured, every coach that [Joe] wants back, he will have back.’’

Hickey also has interviewed for the Cardinals’ pitching-coach vacancy. With Hickey presumably out of the running for that job, the Cardinals are expected to consider Bosio for the vacancy.

The Rays ranked among the top two teams in the American League in ERA for four of five seasons starting in 2008 and among the top five in eight of Hickey’s 11 seasons as their pitching coach.

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com


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