Looks like both trends are continuing.
This week, Duquette is expected to finalize two interesting hires – Rick Peterson and Chris Correnti, men Duquette has worked with in the past who have been lauded for their use of pitching biomechanics. Neither hire is official, and therefore has not been announced by the club.
Peterson, 57, is a renowned former big league pitching coach (Oakland A’s, New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers) who has been nicknamed “The Professor” for his merging of psychological philosophies with biomechanical research and findings.
He has interviewed twice with the Orioles this offseason, including meeting once with manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair. Peterson would technically fill the Orioles’ vacant minor league pitching coordinator position, though it likely will be re-titled and include additional responsibilities.
Specifics of the job are still being worked out. But Peterson, who was fired by the Brewers last offseason when there was a managerial change, is expected to agree to a deal within the next few days with the Orioles, the team that drafted him out of a Pennsylvania high school in the early 1970s (he did not sign, and eventually pitched in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization).
Also expected to agree to a yet-to-be-named position is Correnti, who spent more than a decade with the Boston Red Sox – much of it under Duquette – as an assistant athletic trainer and rehabilitation coordinator.
Correnti, 45, likely will assume similar responsibilities with the Orioles, working primarily with pitchers and their mechanics in an attempt to maintain health and build strength. Specifics of Correnti’s role have not been finalized but it is expected he will work in concert with the club’s current athletic trainers, Richie Bancells and Brian Ebel, and strength and conditioning coach Joe Hogarty.
Correnti joined the Boston Red Sox organization in 1994 and worked with them through 2005, receiving credit for implementing a workout program that was praised by pitchers such as Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling.
A certified athletic trainer and strength coach, Correnti worked specifically as Martinez’s personal trainer in 2006 and then joined the Mets, at Martinez’s urging, in 2007. He was let go after the 2010 season by the Mets as part of their financial downsizing. Last year he assisted several big league pitchers but was not associated with a team.
Correnti and Peterson worked together with the Mets. They also both were with the Red Sox organization in 1995 when Duquette was general manager. MASNsports.com first reported that Peterson interviewed with the Orioles.
On the field, the Orioles have made an overhaul of their pitching staff a priority. They continue to have interest in several free-agent pitchers, including Taiwanese lefty Chen Wei-yin. On Monday, mlbtraderumors.com reported that the Orioles are one of three teams interested in 30-year-old Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who was 6-7 with a 2.42 ERA in 17 starts for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in an injury-shortened 2011 season.
An industry source confirmed that the Orioles have looked into Iwakuma, and have vetted his viability as a major league pitcher. Given his short season in 2011 – he threw just 119 innings – and durability issues that have faced previous Japanese pitchers making the jump to Major League Baseball’s five-day starting cycle, Iwakuma may be viewed more as a big league reliever. He also may be limited to a one-year deal until he proves his shoulder can handle the rigors of an MLB season.
Iwakuma is an unrestricted free agent after not being able to reach an agreement with the Oakland A’s after they won a $19.1 million posting bid for him last offseason. The Orioles appeared to have only mild interest in Iwakuma heading into this offseason, according to several club officials, but that was before Duquette was hired.
Duquette is motivated to make an imprint in the international market, including the Far East. He nearly signed South Korean reliever Tae Hyon-Chong before the deal fell through and he inked Japanese lefty Tsuyoshi Wada to a two-year deal in December as well as having continuing conversations with Chen.