By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) Returning to his baseball roots, Dave Martinez will once again be a Cub after he accepted the bench coach position Thursday to work under manager Joe Maddon. The 50-year-old Martinez is a former Cubs outfielder and has been an integral part of Maddon’s coaching staff the past seven years with the Tampa Bay Rays.READ MORE: Chicago Weather Alert: Snow Totals From Lake Effect Snowstorm
After failing to get be named a finalist for the open manager’s job in Tampa, Martinez asked for and received his release from his 2015 coaching contract. Bringing Martinez in as his top coaching lieutenant makes all the sense in the world for Maddon and the Cubs. Martinez spent his entire minor league and first three big league seasons in the Chicago organization (making his big league debut in 1986), and he also returned for a brief stint with the team as a player in 2000.
The savvy Martinez also spent three years with the White Sox as a player from 1995-’97. This extensive experience in the Windy City makes him the perfect guy to help Maddon understand the culture surrounding the Cubs and the city. Dealing with a different league and all new players after nine seasons at the helm of the Rays will be challenging for Maddon.
Martinez will most likely work with the Cubs outfielders and baserunners as part of his new duties. Another former Cub in Doug Dascenzo was initially hired to handle that role before the Maddon signing. Dascenzo will now work with the entire organization’s outfielders and runners in a newly created position.READ MORE: Man Facing Drug Charges After Trying To Hide Cocaine On Shelf Of Dollar Tree Store In Algonquin
Any free agent or trade additions to the group of holdover outfielders will have excellent instruction from the duo. Holdovers like 2014 rookies Arismendy Alcantara and Jorge Soler will need all the expertise Martinez and Dascenzo can offer.
Baserunning and base stealing will be emphasized for the Cubs in spring training and throughout the organization in the coming years. The Cubs were a non-entity at the major league level in 2014, with 60 stolen bases while being caught stealing 41 times.
Coaches may be the most underrated element of how players and teams get better on the major league scene. Adding Martinez, Dascenzo and fellow former Cub Henry Blanco to an already solid staff can only make Maddon and the team’s pursuit of championship baseball a smoother road to travel.MORE NEWS: Mayor Lightfoot Added To Lawsuit Over Removal Of Christopher Columbus Statue In Little Italy
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.