The Cubs announced on Tuesday that they’ve named former big league outfielder Will Venable their new first base coach and hired Jim Benedict as a special assistant to the baseball operations department. The team also confirmed Brandon Hyde’s move to bench coach and the hiring Jim Hickey as its new pitching coach.
The 35-year-old Venable had recently retired and joined the club’s front office as a special assistant, but he’ll now join the team on the field and replace Hyde, who has moved from first base coach to bench coach. Venable was a strong defensive outfielder capable handling all three outfield spots at his peak, and he stole 135 bases in 166 tries (81.3 percent) in his big league career, so he’ll bring some wisdom in those areas to the Cubs’ young players.
Benedict spent the past two seasons as the Marlins’ vice president of pitching development and is renowned for the work he did in seven prior seasons with the Pirates. Benedict and Pittsburgh pitching coach Ray Searage are widely praised and credited for the Pirates’ success in reviving the careers of struggling pitchers such as A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Mark Melancon, Jason Grilli and Edinson Volquez, among others.
Benedict’s work in Pittsburgh was so highly regarded that in order to hire him away from the Pirates, the Marlins traded right-hander Trevor Williams to the Bucs for a considerably lesser prospect (right-hander Richard Mitchell) as a means of compensation.