In a way, Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers made his first step toward hiring a pitching coach for the 2014 season 15 years ago.
It was then that he gave Diamondbacks pitching coach Mike Harkey his first crack at coaching.
“I was released by the Padres in 1998 and he called me up in the summer of 1999,” Harkey recalled of Towers’ call while a guest on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Burns and Gambo show.
And, after climbing the coaching ranks through the San Diego Padres and New York Yankees’ farm systems, Harkey is now sitting under his old general manager — the one who cut him — with the Diamondbacks, as a first-year pitching coach. But he’s not out on his own.
Another pitching coach decision Towers made occurred last offseason, when the general manager reached out to coaching legend Dave Duncan — formerly of the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals, among others. The general manager ultimately talked Duncan out of retirement and into the Diamondbacks organization, as a pitching consultant.
It’s proving fortuitous for Harkey, who said Duncan’s presence in the organization has provided him with “instant credibility.”
“That’s what it’s done for me being a first-year pitching coach, is given me instant credibility,” Harkey explained Wednesday. “Because Duncan and I have very similar philosophies, so when I say something or when (he) says something, it’s something that we’re able to reiterate on both sides… (They) may have a little bit more trust with it.”
Last week, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson couldn’t say enough about Harkey when he was asked about his work in the organization so far.
“It’s about time,” Gibson said when a reporter asked about Harkey instead of Duncan, who had gotten a lot of attention due to his legendary status.
He went on to comment on the harmonious relationship between the two and bullpen coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.
“He’s done a great job assimilating to the role.”