Rick Honeycutt has been the Dodgers pitching coach under four different Dodgers managers but now, after 14 seasons in the role, he’s being moved out of it. Dodgers president Andrew Friedman told reporters today that Honeycutt will be assigned to a special assistant role. He also said that bullpen coach Mark Prior will take over as the club’s pitching coach.
The Dodgers’ failure in the NLDS has largely been blamed on manager Dave Roberts’ deployment — and his insufficiently quick hook — of relief pitchers. But while the ultimate decision on pitching changes do fall on the manager, the pitching coach is part of that decision tree as well, and it’s not hard to imagine that the club wanted to shake up the management of the staff to some degree. It’s also possible that Honeycutt’s health is playing a role here. He had spinal fusion surgery last offseason and has dealt with no small amount of pain since then and he may very well need to move into a less physically strenuous role.
Prior, who you’ll remember as a Cubs phenom-turned-cautionary tale about young pitchers’ health, has spent the past several years immersing himself in baseball operations, first for the Padres and then with the Dodgers. He was San Diego’s minor league pitching coordinator for three seasons and then he was hired by the Dodgers as their bullpen coach prior to the 2018 season.