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Tribe names Hernandez bullpen coach

Tribe names Hernandez bullpen coach

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CLEVELAND -- The Indians are still sorting through their bullpen options for next season, but they have settled on a coach for the relief corps.

As announced Wednesday, former Tigers pitching coach Chuck Hernandez is taking over the Tribe's bullpen coach position. He will replace Luis Isaac, who was relieved of his duties by manager Eric Wedge at the end of the 2008 season.

Hernandez has already gone to work for the Tribe. He is in the Dominican Republic with pitching coach Carl Willis to see Fausto Carmona start and prospect Adam Miller pitch in relief in winter ball for the Aguilas club.

Wedge had said he wanted to change the "dynamic" of the bullpen. He thinks Hernandez will be a better fit for a 'pen that has been erratic over the past five seasons, alternating between dominant and disastrous each year.

"I look at the period of time we've been here and what's transpired," Wedge said. "Ultimately, I felt it was time for us to have a different dynamic and skill set down there, with the man in charge in that role and in that bullpen and with the relationship with Carl Willis, and ultimately how those two rub off on our starting pitchers and bullpen guys. You look at what Carl and Chuck can do together and what you can do with veterans who get better, but also to continue to develop young pitchers and develop more consistency within our bullpen."

The 48-year-old Hernandez spent the past three seasons as pitching coach of the Tigers and became a fall guy, of sorts, when Detroit's pitching staff took a step backward in '08. Before working with the Tigers, Hernandez held the same position with the Rays in 2004 and '05 and with the Angels from 1992-96. He was Tampa Bay's Minor League pitching coordinator from 1997-2003.

Hernandez's experience on the developmental side of the game appealed to Wedge, as did his recent experience within the American League Central.

"I just think that he's a tremendous fit," Wedge said.

Hot Stove

A native of Tampa, Fla., Hernandez has spent 30 seasons in professional baseball. He began his playing career in 1979 and pitched five Minor League seasons in the Yankees and White Sox organizations. He began his coaching career in the White Sox system in 1985.

Isaac's release was a controversial move, given that he had been in the Indians organization for 44 years as a player, coach, scout and Minor League manager. Triple-A pitching coach Scott Radinsky was one of the other candidates to replace Isaac.

It had been the belief of some in the organization that Radinsky, who has been coaching in the Tribe's system for four years, was the favorite to land the post. But the Indians went with a more experienced candidate in Hernandez.

Wedge stressed the importance of the developmental side of the bullpen coach position. Because, as this offseason proves, finding hired guns for the back end is no easy task.

"You look at the free-agent market and a middle-market team like ourselves," Wedge said, "and it's just not a good combination. We've got to continue to develop our young pitchers and be as consistent as possible. You look at the bullpen Detroit had in '06, we had in '07 and the White Sox had this year, and it's not a coincidence the success those teams had."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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