The Dodgers recently hired a new bullpen coach, former Major League pitcher Mark Prior. Prior replaced recently departed Josh Bard, who joined Aaron Boone’s staff in New York as bench coach. Prior has spent the last four seasons as a minor league pitching coordinator in the Padres organization. He recently sat down with David Vassegh to talk about joining the Dodgers coaching staff.
Vassegh started the interview by asking Prior about getting to be a Major League coach at just 37-years old.
Yeah I’m excited. I’m really excited. More humbled by just the mention and the opportunity to get on the field with a lot of great Major League players. And to be a part of the tradition with the Dodgers. It’s gonna be a lot of fun.
I can’t wait to start learning from Doc and the rest of the staff. 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 it’s different as a coach. They’re challenging but definitely a lot of fun.
He followed by asking Prior how the connection to the Dodgers happened.
I do have some connections with a lot of people. I ran across Dave Roberts a little bit as a player, but my first two years here he was on the staff with Buddy Black. So I had a little bit of experience with him, as well as Dave Finley, Alex Slater works in the front office. Some of the other Padres personnel, Josh Byrnes that had come up from San Diego about 3-4 years ago. I was doing my job down here, getting on a plane coming back from the Winter Meetings. I got a phone call that they had called and asked for permission to talk to me about it. It definitely perked my interest and I wanted to listen to the conversation. It happened really fast before the Christmas holiday and the next thing you know the decision was made and I’m on board.
Vassegh would eventually ask Prior what he thought of Rick Honeycutt, and how much Rick could teach him.
A ton. I was fortunate over the last 4 years being around Darren Balsley down here in San Diego, who’s been here the better part of a decade as well. Again, we say it as a player, guys have talent, guys have great arms, great ability to make pitches, but there’s no substitute for experience. Just going through different scenarios that may arise with players or situations in a game. So just being able to tap into that knowledge and experience is invaluable.
Unfortunately, and I’m very fortunate, you don’t get those opportunities to be around those type of people very often. So it’s not something I take lightly and I feel very fortunate to be able to work under him and learn from him.
You can listen to the full interview here.
Prior seems excited to be joining the Dodgers, and we’re all excited to have him. Mark has the good fortune of inheriting Kenley Jansen, but there is still some work to be done in the bullpen. It’ll be interesting to see how he tries to improve his middle relievers.
The front office has already gotten him an interesting piece with the acquisition of Scott Alexander. In addition to Rick Honeycutt, Prior will also try to help talented but inconsistent relievers find a way to consistently contribute. He has plenty of work to do, but he seems to be the right man for the job.
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