A's like in-house pitching coach options

A's like in-house pitching coach options

OAKLAND -- A's general manager Billy Beane is in no hurry to hire a new pitching coach, let alone in any big rush to seek out options away from Oakland. That's because he has at least four internal candidates, all of whom will strongly be considered before an outside alternative, Beane said Monday.

The top contender to replace Curt Young, who has chosen to pursue another opportunity within Major League Baseball, seemingly appears to be bullpen coach Ron Romanick. The 49-year-old Romanick just finished his third season on the A's big league staff after spending nine years as the club's Minor League roving pitching instructor, a role that proved instrumental in the upbringings of several of the team's starting hurlers -- including Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden.

When asked about Romanick's candidacy, Beane didn't hesitate at all.

"Absolutely," he said. "Not only will he be considered, but he should be. He's the guy who has been with us for a number of years and has been influential in the development of these young pitchers as much as anybody. He's a very active bullpen coach and has a lot of history with these guys in the Minor Leagues. There's no question Ronnie will be a candidate."

Romanick has essentially jump-started careers, rebooted careers -- he's responsible for the creation of Brad Ziegler's sidearm style -- and led other careers in a healthy direction, thanks to his highly effective throwing and rehab programs used by the likes of Braden, Joey Devine and Josh Outman.

At the same time, there's no question Romanick does a fine job in his current role, one which allows him the time to do the homework necessary of establishing such programs. So should the A's choose to keep him where he's at, they could dip into the Minors for a handful of other candidates.

Very much respected by all are pitching coordinator Gil Patterson, Triple-A pitching coach Rick Rodriguez and Double-A pitching coach Scott Emerson. All three figure to be in the race to join manager Bob Geren's coaching staff in 2011.

"We certainly have a lot of candidates in-house that we'll certainly give strong consideration, and I think, as standard procedure, we'll take a look outside," Beane said. "But I will say this. We do think highly of a number of people within our organization, so it would be foolish not to strongly consider one of those.

"I think we'll consider them first. I don't think we'll consider them only. Whenever you have vacancies, I think you owe it to yourself to at least explore external options. With that being said, we're very comfortable internally with the options we have."

Beane noted there's currently no timeline to fill the vacant position, one which will be rewarded with a starting staff that compiled a Major League-leading 3.47 ERA this season. Braden, the eldest of the bunch at age 27, is quite in tune with the makeup of his fellow hurlers, and he mentioned he would like to see a pitching coach who can tap in to not only each of their physical abilities, but human side, as well.

"I'm in favor of whatever is going to help us get to where we want to be as a pitching staff," Braden said. "I think the guy who is best suited for the staff is the guy who knows when to be hands-on and, for the most part, knows that we're going to work through what's coming our way on our own.

"We're trying to develop into big league pitchers, frontline big league guys, and I think the guy that can differentiate between trying to put his thumbprint on someone and just working through a process, that's the guy that's going to help us, especially the younger guys. The younger guys are good. They know they're good. They've had success. Nobody's going to tell them that they're not good. The whole world knows it. If someone can come in and just kind of get in touch with their personality and get to know them, that's going to be the biggest thing."

With the job up for grabs, the A's will see just two coaches not named Geren return to their same roles next year. That number could shrink to one -- Mike Gallego as third-base coach -- if Romanick is named pitching coach. Either way, Beane is looking for a rather straightforward task come from the position.

"Our guys are still young," he said, "so that means there's still room for improvement and growth. We want to make sure we have someone in there who can continue that development and help them reach that next level."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.