Braves minor league pitching coordinator Dave Wallace was in Single-A Rome working with pitchers when he got the call the Braves needed him to serve as interim major league pitching coach.
It’s not the most comfortable call for Wallace, a mentor and close friend to Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell, who is on administrative leave while the Braves investigate allegations he made anti-gay slurs to fans in San Francisco. But Wallace is making the best of the situation and staying in close contact with McDowell.
“I talk to him daily,” Wallace said. “We keep updated on what’s going on and some of the things he thinks I need to keep an eye on.”
Wallace is a 30-year veteran of the coaching and front office ranks, who has coached in the major leagues for the Astros, Red Sox, Mets, and Dodgers. He’s in his second year with the Braves and got to know the staff during some major league stints last year as well as spring training. He coached Derek Lowe for two years with the Boston Red Sox.
“Knowing Roger, knowing the players,” Wallace said. “It’s a pretty easy transition as far as knowing the parameters within which you have to work.”
Still, manager Fredi Gonzalez went to the mound Friday night to talk to Tim Hudson, not sending Wallace out until the 10th to talk to Cory Gearrin, whom he’s coached in the minors.
“It’s difficult,” Gonzalez acknowledged. “That’s why I went out there with Huddy….
“You miss Roger. You miss the rapport. But Dave, you talk about pilots having flight hours, stick hours? He’s got an unbelievable amount of pitching coach hours and experience, and he and Roger are on the same page in everything.”