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Cubs round out coaching staff with familiar faces

12 months agoTony Andracki

The Cubs have finalized the new additions to David Ross’ coaching staff, adding a trio of mentors that boast a lot of familiarity with Chicago and the Cubs organization.

Former White Sox utility man Willie Harris will be the new third base coach, taking over for Will Venable who moved on to become the bench coach of the Boston Red Sox this winter.

As Jed Hoyer mentioned last month, Chris Valaika is moving from the organization’s minor league hitting coordinator to the big-league club’s assistant hitting coach. Valaika played appeared in 44 games for the 2014 Cubs.

The Cubs also promoted run production coordinator Nate Halm to the pro scouting department and are bringing back Jim Adduci to fill Halm’s role. Adduci went to high school in Chicagoland (Evergreen Park) and spent seven years in the Cubs system (2007-12, 2019). He was a coach with the Rangers before reuniting with the Cubs this offseason.

“We’re excited,” Hoyer said Thursday. “Valaika did a great job as our hitting coordinator and we think that will provide good continuity. He’s obviously very close and worked closely with [Cubs director of hitting] Justin Stone and that’s a nice thing to have that continuity coming from throughout the system.

“We’re excited to add Jim Adduci. … We had him as a player — terrific guy. A guy we thought definitely had a future on this side of the aisle. I think he’ll do a really good job there.”

Valaika and Adduci are going to be a big part of the equation as the Cubs look to refine their organizational offensive message in 2021 and beyond.

Harris played four seasons with the White Sox from 2002-05 as a second baseman and outfielder. He scored the championship-clinching run in Game 4 of the 2005 World Series.

The 42-year-old will be tasked with overseeing the Cubs’ baserunning in 2021 and was known as a threat as a runner throughout his 12-year MLB career, stealing 107 bases at a 72.8 % success rate.

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Harris also played for the Orioles, Braves, Nationals, Mets and Reds in his career and spent a season with Hoyer in Boston in 2006. He’s served as the Cincinnati Reds minor league baserunning and outfield coordinator the last two seasons.

He interviewed for the White Sox managerial opening this fall before landing a spot on Ross’ coaching staff.

“Willie Harris was a great candidate,” Hoyer said. “He’s excited to be in the box and coach third and work in the outfield and baserunning. We’re excited about the staff. It’s always hard to lose guys, but at the same time, I’m happy with the guys that we replaced them with and I know Rossy did a great job with those searches.”

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