Reds fire 'negative' Dragons pitching coach
Larry Pierson's staff ranked 11th among Midwest League's 14 teams in ERA; new coach takes over tonight.
By Marc Katz
DAYTON | When the Dayton Dragons boarded their bus to West Michigan on Thursday morning, pitching coach Larry Pierson wasn't with them.
Wednesday night, Pierson was fired by Reds farm director Johnny Almaraz.
"Johnny told me I was too negative," Pierson said.
Almaraz said Thursday that he had been thinking about the move for a while.
"We're committed to making the players the best they can be," he said. "We want to develop major leaguers, and we felt a change was needed."
Roving pitching instructor Mike LaCoss, a former Reds player, was acting pitching coach for the Dragons on Thursday night. New pitching coach Pete Magre, a recent hire by the organization, is expected to be in place tonight.
Magre, from San Antonio, was pitching coach at Division II Incarnate Ward College before signing with the Reds to help pitchers at the organization's rookie Gulf Coast League club in Sarasota, Fla.
"He pitched for the Reds in the minor leagues 10-12 years ago and he's got a lot of energy," Reds minor-league pitching coordinator Mack Jenkins said. "It was a tough decision because Larry's (Pierson) a good guy. But you've got a new farm director and a new pitching coordinator (Jenkins) and everyone is being evaluated, including myself."
Dragons manager Billy Gardner Jr. said he thought Pierson, "did a good job," and "helped the pitchers get better," but was not consulted on the move.
Using an organization-mandated tandem pitching system with strict pitch-count limits his first two years with the Dragons, Pierson's pitching staffs finished last in Midwest League team ERA at 5.03 in 2004 and 4.92 last season.
This summer, the Dragons rank 11th (out of 14) in team ERA at 3.92. Four pitchers from this year's staff were promoted after working with Pierson, including Johnny Cueto, Blake Hendley, Justin Mallett and Zac Stott.
Pierson picked up the last of his gear Thursday morning at Fifth Third Field and headed home near St. Louis.
"I get paid through November," he said. "I get a nice vacation."
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