MESA, Ariz. (AP) — The day in early October when Chip Hale lost his job as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, he called his good friend Bob Melvin. Just to talk.
The two go back many years in baseball — Hale was Melvin’s third base coach in Arizona from 2007-09 and bench coach in Oakland from 2012-14 — and Hale considers Melvin his baseball coaching mentor.
Not long after that conversation, a spot on the Oakland Athletics’ coaching staff opened up with the departure of Ron Washington to Atlanta. Hale had other offers but accepted Melvin’s to become the A’s third base coach. He’s now hard at work in spring training working with infielders.
“Decided this was the best spot for me this year. The history I had here, and the history with Bob ... I felt really comfortable here,” Hale said. “He’s the one that brought me to the big leagues with the Diamondbacks. There’s no doubt that the relationship is important. When you go through something like I went through at the end of the year, you know this is important to have a lot of stability when you go somewhere else.”
Hale wasn’t totally shocked at his firing. After going 79-83 in his first season, expectations were higher in Arizona, especially when the Diamondbacks signed ace Zack Greinke as a free agent and acquired Shelby Miller from Atlanta. But the Diamondbacks went 69-93 and lost 48 home games.
“It’s definitely a punch in the gut to not just you but to your family,” Hale said. “More than me, because I’ve been through this as a player, released, and as a coach, been fired before, but it’s hard on your family. They don’t sign up for that, really.”
Much has been made in Arizona about the front office structure last season, which included of chief baseball officer Tony La Russa, general manager Dave Stewart and DeJon Watson, senior vice president of baseball operations. Stewart and Watson were let go at season’s end, and LaRussa’s role was diminished.
“I felt like when I was managing, I was given the ability to write the lineup down, I was given support, I never felt like anybody was telling me what I had to do as a manager,” Hale said.
Hale said he enjoyed managing, wins or losses. The relationships from the job are what stood out, and he would certainly like a shot at another managerial job.
“I’d like to try again and get an opportunity, but you know that it’s a tough thing to get. There’s a lot of people that are working hard to get an opportunity.”
“I have the experience now,” Hale said, laughing. “You can check one box.”
Hale’s persona stands out. Melvin and the A’s players missed it the past couple of years.
“Mr. Energy,” Melvin said. “Where we are as an organization, it’s nice to have some continuity and some guys that have been here and know how we do things. For me there’s a comfort level but for him, it’s like he never left.”
Catcher Stephen Vogt said the A’s were happy for Hale when he got the Diamondbacks job but are glad he’s back.
“Always encouraging. Any way he can help he wants to help. He’s a worker,” Vogt said. “He knows how to read the dugout. He’s such a big part of the A’s organization. Even when he left we still had some Chip residue, so to speak.”
Hale grew up in the Bay Area and during high school often attended A’s games.
“I’m a lifer in baseball,” Hale said. “Some people said, ‘Take a year off.’ I could never do that. I enjoy the competition. That’s the best thing about it.”
NOTES: The A’s will start Saturday’s workout earlier with the threat of rain in the forecast for the area. ... Reliever Santiago Casilla still has yet to report to the team while awaiting visa approval. ... Sonny Gray, Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea, Oakland’s projected top three starting pitchers, threw bullpen sessions Friday, and Melvin said he was pleased with what he saw from all three.