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Cadahia brings experience to Royals' bench

Cadahia brings experience to Royals' bench

Cadahia brings experience to Royals' bench
KANSAS CITY -- Chino Cadahia, the Royals' new bench coach, comes with a background of learning at the side of a terrific tutor: Future Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox.

Cadahia was Cox's bench coach for the last four years of his 20-year run with the Atlanta Braves, which ended after the 2010 season.

"That's the experience of a lifetime, working next to Bobby," Cadahia said. "And I'm sure that behind the scenes, he had something to do with this, because he and Ned [Yost] are very close friends. I knew Bobby for 15 years, which was great, and then working side-by-side with him for the last four years was the best experience I've ever had in baseball. We don't have enough time to tell you what he means to me, the things he's done for me, and how much I've learned from him."

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Cadahia was speaking from Surprise, Ariz., where the Royals' brass is gathering this week for organizational meetings. Yost, whom Cadahia will assist in 2012, will be there along with general manager Dayton Moore.

Yost, also a graduate of Cox's Atlanta staff, said Cox told him that Cadahia was an outstanding bench coach. During Cadahia's time there, the Braves finished above .500 in three of four seasons and made the playoffs in 2010. That year they had a 91-71 record, exactly the opposite of the mark posted by this year's Royals.

Cadahia also takes on the responsibility of coaching catchers Salvador Perez, Brayan Pena and Manny Pina.

"They're very good," Cadahia said. "I coached Brayan in Atlanta when he was real young, and he's always been one of my favorite players. I got to meet Salvador and Manny here, and they're outstanding individuals to begin with, and very talented as catchers."

Working this year as a special assistant to player development, Cadahia spent a lot of time with Triple-A Omaha and Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where both Perez and Pina played.

Perez, who made a big impression in 39 late-season games, played like a veteran on defense and also unexpectedly hit .331.

"Salvador, no matter how good he is, he's still 21 years old, so he's got a lot to learn," Cadahia said. "He'll figure some things out, and hopefully I can help along the way. The main thing is not to mess him up at all."

He's known Pena since Brayan signed with the Braves in 2000.

"I don't know that you're ever going to find anybody that will out-work Brayan Pena. I know I haven't since I met him," Cadahia said.

In the small world department, Benny Cadahia, Chino's brother, coached Perez a few years ago when he was working for the Royals. Perez said recently that Benny Cadahia helped him tremendously.

Chino Cadahia worked with center fielder Melky Cabrera in his one year at Atlanta and was with the Braves' organization when right fielder Jeff Francoeur was breaking in. He likes the Royals' chances of contending.

"We're close, I know that," he said. "You just never know. A piece here and a piece there and you're riding a winner."

After working in the Royals' Minor League system throughout the past year, Cadahia appreciates the No. 1 ranking the organization enjoyed last season, along with three teams in the playoffs -- but with a proviso.

"It doesn't matter how good we are in the Minor Leagues," he said. "At the end of the day, you have to be competitive and win in the big leagues. I got the opportunity to do that in Atlanta and it's tough every day, you've got to win every day -- that's the attitude you have to have."

Cadahia replaces John Gibbons, who departed after three years as bench coach, along with pitching coach Bob McClure, who was on board for six years.

McClure was let go, in part, for his staff issuing the most bases on balls in the American League, 557.

"If you look at it, and I've broken it down, there are a couple of things. Once [Vin] Mazzaro and [Sean] O'Sullivan kind of didn't work out, and that was pretty early on, the rest of the year the starters walked less than three men per nine innings. I believe it was 2.8, which any pitching coach will take. Anything three or under is acceptable. You take the bullpen into consideration, where [Joakim] Soria is the only guy that has a year or more in the big leagues, and you've got high strikeouts and high walks because they averaged almost five walks per nine innings. You're going to see that with young guys and with that little experience. It just doesn't happen overnight."

McClure made reducing walks a constant message with the rookie-dominated bullpen.

"But it just didn't work out," he said. "But I was excited about what some of the guys did."

Like Gibbons, McClure believes that the Royals' future in bright and he was disappointed about leaving.

"I was very excited about the way we were headed," he said. "You're seeing so many things from young guys. It was fun going to the park and watching them. It was really neat. I felt so up every day the way we were going about it. . . . So I was kind of sad about it."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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