The Los Angeles Dodgers were forced to find a replacement for bullpen coach Josh Bard this offseason as he left the organization to become bench coach of the New York Yankees.
The Dodgers turned to a familiar face for Southern California baseball fans to be Bard’s replacement, hiring former USC and Chicago Cubs pitcher Mark Prior. He spent the past four seasons in the San Diego Padres organization.
Prior began with San Diego as an assistant in their baseball operations department, then was the organization’s pitching coordinator the last three seasons.
The position with the Dodgers is his first as a Major League coach, and in an interview on Dodger Talk with David Vassegh on AM 570 L.A. Sports Radio, Prior discussed the excitement that comes with that opportunity:
“I’m excited, I’m really excited. I’m more humbled by even just the mention and the opportunity to get on the field with a lot of great Major League players and be part of the tradition of the Dodgers. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I can’t wait to start learning from Doc and the rest of the staff and just kind of see what goes into day-to-day preparing to get guys ready to play. I did it as a player, but as I’ve experienced in the last four years, things are different as a coach or front office member. They’re challenging but they’re a lot of fun.”
Prior was once one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball, although his career wound up being cut short much too early due to injuries.
The 37-year-old was known for having perfect mechanics, so he may serve as a secondary pitching coach of sorts alongside Rick Honeycutt. Moreover, Prior could ultimately become Honeycutt’s replacement whenever he decides to retire.