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The Arizona Diamondbacks officially named Brent Strom as their new pitching coach on Thursday. In his first media appearance as a member of the D-backs, Strom expressed gratitude towards the organization for this opportunity.
“There was nothing that transpired with the Astros that created this move,” Strom stated. “It’s hard to explain. More of a gut feeling that my time there — the eight years I was there — we achieved a great deal and I just kinda felt like a change was needed for whatever reason. And I’m grateful for the Diamondbacks to place some trust in me and see where we go from here.”
Strom spent 11 years as pitching coach for the Houston Astros and the Kansas City Royals and was named Baseball America’s MLB Coach of the Year in 2018. In his time with Houston from 2018-21, the Astros led the majors in strikeouts and quality starts. They were also second in ERA, opponent batting average and WHIP.
Strom conveyed that proximity to his home in Tucson played a role in making this offer appealing. However, he felt like this challenge came at a time when he was ready for something new.
“I’m just kind of excited,” he said. “It’s kind of a new challenge, a fresh start, and I’ve been doing a lot of homework on guys. The people I’ve met in the organization thus far have been very gracious and very open with their thoughts.”
Strom admitted to already being at work establishing a relationship with his staff.
“I’ve been calling the pitchers and trying to get to know them a little bit,” he said.
He discussed contemplating his retirement due to the demand that came with being a crucial part of Houston’s playoff success over the last five seasons.
“I think at times during the season for the past eight years or so — last five years in particular — we’ve had some very high stressful moments and a lot of times I take that upon myself a great deal,” Strom said. “Quite frankly, living with every pitch in a playoff situation with a team that you hope to win a World Series with — that you’re somewhat expected to do very well — can be very stressful.
“That’s not to say that any other job at this major league level is not stressful, but I was just getting a little bit concerned in terms of how I was feeling about things. And I just basically let James Click know about six weeks prior to the end of the season that I was contemplating this.”
Strom admitted feeling confident that the Astros organization is now in good hands without him, mentioning Josh Miller and William Murphy as “truly outstanding young pitching coaches.”
Although the D-backs are in a remarkably similar position as the Astros were when he came on board as their pitching coach, Strom said that wasn’t the part of the challenge that made him choose to come to Arizona. In reality, they were the only team offering him a pitching coach position.
“I wouldn’t say that the struggles that the D-backs had last year enticed me to see what I could do over here,” he said. “I think actually they were the only team that came calling, quite frankly, outside of consulting type work, which I had considered.
“But with the Diamondbacks giving me a chance — and I’d heard so much from so many people about the quality of people that work in this organization — that it was worth meeting them and seeing if they had some interest. Obviously, I did.
“I talked to a number of people about retirement. Fifty percent said it’s great and 50 percent said it sucks, so they really gave me no answer. I was home for a couple of days and realized I missed it. I was disappointed obviously in the World Series loss, but I had to take solace in the fact that we did win the American League pennant and had a really good run, especially the last six years of my run there with the Astros. As I said earlier, it’s just a gut feeling to kind of move on.”
Now that Brent Strom is with the D-backs, his work has already started with a pitching staff that ranked last in the National League in ERA in 2021.
“It’s going to be interesting as I do a deep dive into the Diamondbacks’ pitching to see where I might be able to nudge somebody one way or another,” he said. “There is talent here from the little bit that I’ve been able to gleam. I’m going to be going up tomorrow to the complex, and we are going to meet and go over the relievers. I’ve done the starters. And as I keep gathering information and talking to the pitchers themselves, I think it’s going to be a good ride and I just hope that we obviously can improve. That’s our goal.”
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