11/22 Mueller eager to get started
Bill Mueller hasn’t worn a Major League uniform since 2007 and he’s eager to get back on the field. Mueller was named to new Cubs manager Rick Renteria’s coaching staff on Friday. A former American League batting champion, the 42-year-old Mueller was an interim hitting coach for the Dodgers in the second half of 2007. After an 11-year playing career that included two seasons with the Cubs, Mueller joined the Dodgers’ front office. He has spent the last six seasons as a special assistant.
“It’s something that has always been inside me to be near the field again and be a part of a team and be with a Major League club,” Mueller said Friday. “You never know when that opportunity might come or if it does. I’ve always tried to be as well-rounded as possible and stay in the game and continue to be a student of the game so if an opportunity pops up, I could handle it and be ready to take it on. This was an opportunity that was hard to pass up and I’m very excited about it.”
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer asked the Dodgers for permission to talk to Mueller, who picked Mike Brumley, 51, as his assistant. Brumley has spent the last four seasons as first-base coach with the Mariners. He began his big league career with the Cubs in 1987.
Mueller compiled a career .291 average in his 11 seasons as a player, and batted .326 in ’03 with the Red Sox when he won the batting title. It wasn’t easy, which is something he’ll stress to the Cubs hitters.
“I had to work to get everything I achieved,” Mueller said. “Going through the process of understanding my swing and breaking it down and understanding the strengths and weaknesses and all that good stuff was a process that I had to go through. I feel it helps with the relationship and the communication with these guys. … I wasn’t the best bat on the team, it was something I had to work very hard at.”
The next step will be to study video of the Cubs batters, some of whom he has seen as a scout. He’ll then contact the players. Told that Theo Epstein wants the Cubs to lead the league in on-base percentage, Mueller laughed. That’ll be a tough assignment, but he’s up to it.
– Carrie Muskat