Royals hire Eiland as pitching coach

KANSAS CITY (AP) — Royals manager Ned Yost said last month he wanted to find a new pitching coach who managed to have a long career in the major leagues despite having “mediocre stuff.”

He found precisely that in Dave Eiland.

The former Yankees pitching coach was added Tuesday to Yost’s staff. He’ll be tasked with helping to develop a young starting rotation that was long on talent but too often short on results this season, when the Royals finished 71-91 and 24 games out of first place in the AL Central.

“This is a team that’s going to make some noise as we move forward,” said Eiland, who spent the past season as a special assistant to Rays general manager Andrew Friedman. “We feel like if we all do our part, this is a team that can contend within the next year or two.”

Eiland takes over for Bob McClure, who was let go after five seasons with the Royals.

McClure oversaw the development of former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke, now with the Brewers, along with current starters such as Luke Hochevar and Danny Duffy. But he was often criticized for a pitching staff that walked far too many batters — the Royals were fourth in the majors and led the American League with 557 walks — and consequently struggled to get deep into games.

“You have to teach guys how to pitch into the seventh, eighth and ninth inning, and how to finish games, and that’s what we want to do out there,” Eiland said Tuesday.

Eiland has spent most of his career in the Yankees organization, first as player and later as a pitching coach. He worked his way up through the minor league system before joining the staff of Yankees manager Joe Girardi in 2008, and helped the franchise win its 27th World Series title the following year, when New York pitchers struck out the second-most batters in franchise history.

Eiland also started his pitching career with the Yankees in 1988, and later played for the Padres and Rays, compiling a 12-27 record and 5.74 ERA while appearing in 92 games over 10 seasons.

In short, just the kind of “mediocre stuff” that Yost was seeking in a pitching coach.

“Instead of mediocre stuff, my stuff was a little south of mediocre,” Eiland said with a laugh. “I had to work really hard, every day, year in and year out, to stick around.”

Eiland said he visited Yost on the manager’s Georgia ranch a few weeks ago and came away feeling like they were on the same page. That feeling was affirmed days later when Eiland met with Royals general manager Dayton Moore to discuss the job.

“He is an extremely talented pitching coach and a proven winner,” Moore said. “Ned and our entire baseball operations staff have strong convictions about Dave’s ability to make a positive difference with our pitching staff.”

Eiland said he doesn’t know a whole lot about the Royals’ young pitchers, aside from what he remembers from viewing them across the diamond from the opposing dugout.

He expects a shipment of videos to arrive at his home soon, and Eiland said he’ll set about dissecting each pitcher in the organization in the coming days, even though they aren’t scheduled to report to spring training for a few more months.

“Like I was telling Ned yesterday,” Eiland said, “I wish spring training was starting tomorrow.”

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