Rick Adair, who took a leave of absence in August to deal with personal issues including the impending death of his father, will not be back as Orioles pitching coach despite having a contract that runs through the 2014 season.
In his first public comments since taking the leave of absence, Adair talked about his time with the Orioles, dealing with the death of his father and what might be in store for Adair in 2014 – which would be his 35th year in pro baseball.
What are your thoughts about not returning to the Orioles?
“This is difficult because there are a lot of friendships there and a lot of things over the last few years that have been accomplished. Obviously, you’re trying to win a World Series and we didn’t get there last year or this year. But seeing the transformation from where we were in 2011 to where we are now, it has been a blast. There are a lot of people responsible for that and I am going to miss that.”
Can you address exactly what went into the decision not to return and who, ultimately, made it?
“I’m not getting into any specifics of that, but Buck [Showalter] and I did have two really long conversations. And when it was all said and done, the decision was made that I’m not coming back. Who decided and all that kind of stuff, we don’t need to talk about that. But I feel real good about what has been done there, the working relationship with Buck and how that’s been, and with the coaching staff. So I am going to miss it. There is no doubt. But it was a decision that was made and I feel good about the decision.”
What have the last two months been like, including dealing with the terminal illness and death of your father from cancer?
“An awakening, to say the least. With what I saw him go through and how fast [he deteriorated]. A lot of travel between Baltimore and Alabama -- no flying, just driving -- and going back home. My dad and I had not been close. And so to spend the last four weeks with him and get everything in order, to get things right and spend time with him, I wouldn’t trade it for anything -- anything in baseball. It meant that much to me.”
What’s next for you? Will you sit out a year?
“I don’t know. In terms of what happens next year, if I go to spring training with somebody next year that will be 35 spring trainings in a row. And sometimes you have to sit back and think, ‘Is my time up in this game?’ Or, ‘Is it time to take a break or do something different?’ I don’t know. If someone has interest and it is a good fit, I’d think about it. I believe in fate and things will work out the way they are supposed to.”
How would you characterize your time in Baltimore?
“Any time you take a major league job, first of all you know that there is a short shelf life, we’ve heard Buck say that many times. It could be three years or five years or however you look at it. I’ve had four opportunities [to be a major league pitching coach] and I feel as good about what’s happened in Baltimore as I have anywhere. Any time you go into this type of job, you want to win as a pitching coach. But your biggest priority as a pitching coach is that your pitchers are healthy. I think there was one surgery [Randy Wolf] involving anybody who had significant time with the big league club over three years. And then you look at it, that whenever I leave, whenever that is, is it better than when I got here? I’ve looked at all three of those things: We won; we were healthy and I think everything about the organization is better than it was when we got there.”
With one year left on your contract, do you feel things were left incomplete?
“A little bit, but at the same time, somebody else is going to walk into a great situation. I think, honestly, [what’s needed] is another voice type, or different personality, maybe somebody a little more exuberant than I was toward the end. I think it is going to be a good situation for somebody. People can think what they want, but you put your heart and soul into something for almost three years and it [turns out to be] better. So I feel real good about where the Orioles are and the things that have been done there. Trust me. I’ll be pulling for those guys.”
Is there something in your tenure you take particular pride in?
“I think more than anything is that [the players] all realized that they were part of a club and no matter how they did -- good or bad -- they knew somebody was there behind them. You could really see it with [closer Jim Johnson] this year, with the blown saves he had, especially early in the year. He felt so bad about the 24 other guys, it wasn’t about him. So when you see that and you know that, that’s what you feel good about. They realize on a given day it takes 25 guys to win a major league ballgame. And they pulled for each other. And you don’t find that everywhere.”
What will you miss the most?
“I’ll miss seeing a guy that people don’t know or don’t believe in and seeing that guy really do well. There are guys that have ability and at some point in time they are going to put it together. But the guys that are grinders, that come out of nowhere like [Miguel Gonzalez] or even to see what [Chris] Tillman did for us or go back to last year to what [Jim Johnson] has done over two years, over 100 saves. Or Darren O’Day being picked up on waivers and having the two years he had or Brian Matusz being in the big leagues all year this year or Tommy Hunter. You can just go down the list. There were a lot of good things that happened.”
Have you kept tabs on your pitchers or the team?
“During the season I would watch games and I would text them. I knew their schedule. You don’t want to talk after games because it’s late – and I was usually exhausted by then anyway. So I texted them a lot, we exchanged messages.”
If you had to predict it now, will you take another job in 2014?
“I’m not looking. I’ll put it to you that way. But if something happens, I would talk [to a potential team]. But I’m not going out looking for a job.”
Any final thoughts on the situation in Baltimore?
“For me, it was a great experience. I never will forget what it was like last year for the playoffs and how loud [Camden Yards] was. And when we got back from New York, after the fifth game and we got beat, and we pulled up on the bus and 1,000 people were there waiting on you, that’s pretty special. So there were a lot of good times, a lot of good memories. It’s a good situation. Somebody is going to walk into a great situation. I don’t know who it is going to be, but I’ll be pulling for him. It’s just time for me not to be there.”