Peterson hired to be Crew's pitching coach
Previously worked under Macha, Randolph with A's, Mets
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers did not just hire a pitching coach on Tuesday. They hired a pitching system.The team made a free-agent splash of sorts by hiring former A's and Mets pitching guru Rick Peterson, who has a degree in psychology and a record of success employing biomechanics, a system of analyzing pitchers' deliveries to limit injuries and improve performance. Brewers medical staffers and coaches have been working in that area for several years, making Peterson a perfect fit. "I asked right up front: Are you looking just for a big league pitching coach, or are you looking for an organizational philosophy?" said Peterson, who agreed to a two-year contract. "I'm more interested in integrating a philosophy, and that's what they were looking for. "When you look at my career path, my life's path, I tried to design the best pitching system that could be designed, and now I'm coming to an organization that embraces that." The Brewers also announced on Tuesday that bullpen coach Stan Kyles would be back for a second season, and that Chris Bosio, who finished the 2009 season as Milwaukee's interim pitching coach, will return to the organization in a role yet to be determined. General manager Doug Melvin will continue talks with Bosio to determine the best fit. Bosio will return to his role as Triple-A Nashville's pitching coach or assume a new advance scouting position. Peterson, who turns 55 next week, has 11 seasons of experience as a Major League pitching coach with the A's (1998 to 2003) and Mets (2004 to 2008), plus four seasons as a bullpen coach with the Pirates (1984 and 1985) and White Sox (1994 and 1995). His relationship with Brewers manager Ken Macha goes back to 1997, at Double-A Trenton in the Red Sox system, before they reunited in Oakland from 1999 to 2003. Peterson moved on to the Mets beginning in 2004, and stayed on the staff when Willie Randolph was hired to manage the team beginning in 2005. Both men were dismissed by the Mets in June 2008, and Randolph is now Milwaukee's bench coach. Peterson also worked closely with Brewers third-base coach Brad Fischer when Fischer was the A's bullpen coach, and with Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash, who was the Blue Jays' GM in 1996 when Peterson was Toronto's Minor League pitching coordinator. Ash is head of Milwaukee's medical program and will work closely with Peterson. That sense of familiarity should help Peterson hit the ground running. "I'm going to let him do his thing," Macha said. "That's what I did with [hitting coach Dale Sveum], and Dale said at the end of the year that he really appreciated that I just let him do his job." Peterson has yet to look at video of specific Brewers pitchers, many of whom are under team control for next season. He was more interested in getting a feel for whether key decision-makers were willing to embrace his program. He was left with little doubt. "It's very important that our philosophies are aligned," Peterson said. "Until the interview, I didn't realize how much we were aligned. I didn't know that the Brewers' orthopedic doctor [Dr. William Raasch] was implementing biomechanical analysis throughout the organization." Peterson was a pioneer of that budding science. In 1989 he was the first coach to walk through the doors of Dr. James Andrews' now-famous American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Ala., and Peterson has returned at least 80 times with professional pitchers, a list that includes Oakland's former "Big Three" of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. Andrews used digital imaging to break down deliveries, and Peterson prescribed drills to fix areas of concern. Peterson became a believer. So much so that he started a company, 3P Sports, that offers the same program to Little Leaguers. At the same time, Raasch, the Brewers' longtime team physician, and head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger have been doing work in the same area in the wake of injuries to many of the team's top pitching prospects. Raasch has all of the equipment at his Milwaukee office to analyze deliveries. He used it last month to break down Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo. Peterson was pleased to learn about Milwaukee's interest in biomechanics. "Some of the other places I've been, it was a battle to a degree," he said. "They either didn't have anything in place or felt like it was too scientific, too data-driven. Whatever it was, there was opposition and a desire to be more 'old school.' With Milwaukee, all the way up to the ownership, it seems they are a very forward-looking team. It's traditional baseball intertwined with new-age thinking." The Brewers entered 2009 with more of an "old school" pitching coach in Bill Castro, who was elevated to the job after 17 seasons in the bullpen. But Castro was dismissed on Aug. 12 after a series of fill-ins could not fill the holes left by injuries to Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan. The Brewers finished the season with a 4.83 ERA, next to last among the 16 National League clubs. Starters had a 5.37 ERA, tied with Baltimore for the worst mark of all 30 Major League clubs. The team's pitching troubles led Melvin to wonder aloud whether his biggest losses from 2008 weren't free-agent pitchers CC Sabathia or Ben Sheets but free-agent pitching coach Mike Maddux, who left after six seasons in Milwaukee for more money with the Texas Rangers. This winter, Melvin made hiring Peterson a priority. Peterson was one of three candidates interviewed for the job, along with Bosio and former D-backs pitching coach Bryan Price. The Reds hired Price last week. "Bryan was very good, too," Melvin said. "Whoever we brought in, the idea was to maximize pitchers' performances. I think Rick is going to be a good motivator, and he brings a lot of knowledge to the concept of pitching. He's a high-energy guy, and I know he's looking forward to the challenge of improving our pitching."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.