As the White Sox introduce Pedro Grifol as their new manager Thursday, it’s not yet known how the first-year skipper’s coaching staff will shape up, although third-base coach Joe McEwing will not be back.
McEwing, who spent 16 years in the organization, including 11 as a coach under Robin Ventura, Rick Renteria and Tony La Russa, was the team’s third-base coach the last two seasons and for seven total. McEwing said he learned of the Sox’ decision to let him go this week.
An intense worker and upbeat presence behind the scenes and in the clubhouse, McEwing, affectionately known as “Super Joe,” was thrust in an unwanted spotlight this season when he and pitcher Lance Lynn had words in the dugout in Detroit on June 13 and when he sent slow-footed catcher Yasmani Grandal home from second in Cleveland on Aug. 20. While manager Tony La Russa defended the decision, Grandal was out easily and twisted his knee trying to avoid the tag.
Charlie Montoyo will be Grifol’s bench coach, filling the role held by Miguel Cairo. Montoyo was fired as Blue Jays manager this season. General manager Rick Hahn on Thursday said pitching coach Ethan Katz and assistant pitching coach Curt Hasler will return from the current staff.
Grifol comes on board with a low profile as bench coach of the last-place Royals and a well-rounded résumé, but one without major-league playing experience.
As Grifol’s staff is pieced together, additional important matters — figuring out how to pick up the pieces of 2022 — will be addressed. Trades, free-agent signings and exercising necessary club contract options could position the Sox, on paper, as preseason favorites to win their second AL Central Division in three years.
In any event, the roster Grifol has to work with is more important than the manager himself, and to that end, the Sox have four players who are free agents: first baseman Jose Abreu, shortstop Elvis Andrus and right-handers Johnny Cueto and Vince Velasquez.
Players with team contract options for 2023 include shortstop Tim Anderson ($12.5 million) and second baseman Josh Harrison ($5.625 million, $1.5 million buyout). Only Anderson’s is certain to be picked up. A.J. Pollock has a $13 million player option with a $5 million buyout.
How the areas of starting pitching, right field, first base and second base are addressed, as well as plans to improve defensively and coaching and training staff changes, will become more clear with Grifol in place.