A's seek bullpen coach after Alston's departure

Longtime Oakland employee accepts job with Twins

OAKLAND -- The A's have a vacancy on their Major League coaching staff following Garvin Alston's departure Thursday to join the Twins as pitching coach.

Alston was enjoying his second tour with the A's and first as bullpen coach, rejoining them in June after beginning the 2017 season as pitching rehab coordinator for the Padres.

The 45-year-old will be embarking on his 14th season as a coach at the professional level, the majority of them coming in Oakland's organization. Before serving as the D-backs' bullpen coach in 2016, Alston spent 10 years climbing up the A's coaching depth chart.

After stops as pitching coach with Class A Kane County (2005-06) and Class A Advanced Stockton (2007-08), Alston served as the A's Minor League rehab pitching coordinator from 2009-14. He was promoted to Minor League pitching coordinator in 2015.

His impact on players in the A's system is vast. Notably, former A's pitcher Sean Doolittle credits Alston helping him make the switch from injury-prone first baseman to star reliever.

Speaking to local reporters on Thursday, Twins manager Paul Molitor said: "Getting a chance to have him sit across my desk and have a lengthy conversation, I felt that there was instantaneous comfortability. His communication style and ability to push the right buttons and building relationships is important. He understands the new data and how we use it for a pitcher's game plan."

The A's are likely to stay in-house for their next bullpen coach. There's also still a chance they could be on the hunt for a new third-base coach soon, with manager Bob Melvin's longtime right-hand man Chip Hale being viewed as a managerial option elsewhere. Hale interviewed with the Phillies last week.

Worth noting

• Journeyman Chris Smith was outrighted off the A's 40-man roster this week and elected free agency. The 36-year-old righty latched on with the A's organization in 2016, following six years away from professional baseball, and appeared in 27 big league games (nine starts) over the last two seasons, posting a 5.60 ERA.

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.