In December the Dodgers announced their minor league coaching staffs for 2014. Former major league pitcher Scott Radinsky was named the pitching coach of the Chattanooga Lookouts replacing 2013 pitching coach Hector Berrios who was assigned to the Arizona League Dodgers. Radinsky had been the pitching coach of the short season Ogden Raptors in 2013.
Radinsky was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the third round of the First Year Player Draft in 1986 out of Simi Valley High School in Simi Valley, California. The wonder is why he wasn’t snatched up before the third round. In his senior high school year he posted unbelievable numbers: 14-1, 0.72 ERA, 180 whiffs in 100.1 innings.
He spent four years in the minor leagues from 1986–1989 before his debut with the White Sox on April 9, 1990 at the age of twenty-two. In his final minor league year he again posted unbelievable numbers: 31 saves, a 1.75 ERA, 5.7 hits allowed per nine innings and 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
After four successful seasons with the White Sox with 1992 being his best year, Radinsky was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease following the 1993 season. The disease and treatment caused him to miss the entire 1994 campaign. Upon returning to the White Sox in 1995, he struggled as he worked to regain his strength and stamina. Although quite successful in the later part of 1995 he was released by the White Sox following the season.
Next came the part of his career that Dodger fans fondly remember. Turning down more lucrative offers to return home to Southern California he signed with the Dodgers as a free agent in January 1996. In fact, he rejected major league contracts and signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers to try to make the team he had followed as a youngster.
In his three seasons with the Dodgers (1996-1998) Radinsky arguably had the best stint in his career. He made 195 appearances in those three years as a set up pitcher for closers Todd Worrell and Jeff Shaw. He went 16-8 and his ERA never exceeded 2.89. He became somewhat of a fan favorite with his strong pitching performances, equally strong work ethic and maybe a bit of quirkiness also helped, as did his home town status.
Following a strong 1998 season he was let go by the Dodgers and finished his pitching career with stops in St. Louis and Cleveland before retiring in 2001 at age 33 following Tommy John Surgery.
Radinsky was out of baseball until 2005 when he joined the Cleveland Indians as a minor league pitching coach and in five years served with teams in Lake County, Akron, Buffalo and Columbus. By 2010 he had made his way back to major league baseball as the bench coach with the Cleveland Indians. Pitching coach Tim Belcher stepped down at the end of the 2011 season to spend more time with his family and Radinsky was named the new pitching coach.
His time with Cleveland as a major league pitching coach was to be short lived. The Indians, after a strong start, went into a prolonged team slump so someone had to go. On August 9, 2012 Radinsky was unceremoniously fired and all the usual platitudes about a fired employee were given by the Indians’ upper management. Cleveland pitchers, who seemed to like his coaching approach, spoke out on behalf of “Rad” as they called him.
“We under performed this year. I don’t think it was Rad’s fault. In fact, most of it wasn’t,” said closer Chris Perez.
“This is really disappointing because I loved Rad,” said Justin Masterson. “He’s an excellent pitching coach, but this is part of the game.”
“Radinsky taught pitchers ‘to trust in your stuff’ rather than work to hitters’ weaknesses”, said. Derek Lowe, “That’s the biggest thing he tried to instill in us.” Lowe added: “He’s not a big numbers guy. We didn’t have a lot of meetings. I respected that.”
He elaborated on his ‘trust your strength’ comment in a New York Times interview on August 26, 2012: “My comment was, you need to understand your strength,” said Radinsky. “Because if you try to do something that’s not part of your strengths, then you are pitching to their advantage aren’t you? Their weaknesses are obvious but if it’s not your strength, you have to go with what got you there in the first place. If I don’t have a slider I can’t try to get you out with a slider. You have to be intelligent, but I think you have to strip it down and keep it basic and remember it’s a competition and it’s still a game. It’s still a level of intensity you need to bring out of yourself.”
In a Sports Illustrated article on Radinsky, former Dodgers bullpen coach Mark Cresse shed some light on how Radinsky approaches his coaching duties and what he might expect from the pitchers he coaches.
“Radinsky pitches the way he sings – with headlong intensity,” Cresse said. “Some pitchers don’t want to enter tight games. Rad not only wants to enter tight games, but he also never wants to leave them. He’s totally fearless.”
Radinsky loves baseball, but besides his family and baseball he has two other loves – Skatelab, opened in 1997 and located in Simi Valley, is home to a skate park, the Skateboard Museum and the Skateboarding Hall of Fame. Skatelab offers instruction in skateboarding along with camps and clinics. “We have never made much money of it,” says Radinsky. “It was always about opening it up for the right reasons, and I think it’s been established into something that’s pretty cool. We made a lot out of nothing and I think it’s a special place, an iconic place. And I think when people think about it, if they have been there, they kind of have an attachment towards it too.”
Radinsky’s other lifelong love is punk rock – yes, punk rock. He is still the lead singer for the punk rock band Pulley. He has been playing and touring since he graduated from high school and continues to devote about five months a year to it. When asked which city was his favorite to play in while on tour, Radinsky responded “ L.A. is great and I love playing everywhere in Europe and South America, and the shows we played in Japan. I love playing everywhere. I really can’t say there’s a bad city. Anytime you get a chance to go play a punk rock gig with your friends and someone shows up, it’s good. It’s a good time.”
I expect Radinsky can relate to the young pitchers on more than one level. I wonder when Black Jack McDowell (Stickfigure) and Scott Radinsky (Pulley) will get together for a jam session. They were teammates with the White Sox from 1990 through 1993, both fierce competitors and band leaders.