After paying his dues for 26 years as a White Sox minor league pitching coordinator and coach, Curt Hasler has arrived in the big leagues.
He certainly belongs, Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. Hasler’s title is bullpen coach but if the title of assistant pitching coach was placed on Hasler, Cooper would be all for it.
“He’s my assistant, for sure,’’ Cooper said. “I would have no problem if he had the role of assistant pitching coach. Right now his title is bullpen coach but he assists me in every thing I ask him to do.’’
Hasler and Cooper, who has spent 29 seasons in the organization including 14 as Sox pitching coach, are working together with the big club for the first time, but they have been in lockstep since Hasler was a pitcher for Class A South Bend in 1988. Cooper started his career as a pitching coach that season.
“He was one of my right hand guys as a coordinator and now he’s one of my right hand guys here,’’ Cooper said. “He’s a big help because I can give him assignments, things to do to help me and I know they are getting done.
Hasler was minor league pitching coordinator the last six years after being a pitching coach at every minor league level before that, and when Bobby Thigpen wasn’t retained after last season, Hasler changed roles.
“He’s a big asset,’’ Cooper said.
While the relief pitchers fall under Hasler’s watch during games, Cooper and Hasler work with the entire pitching staff. Hasler said he’s not caught up in titles, and the most important thing to him is knowing Cooper trusts him, in large part because Cooper taught him much of what he knows. They watch video together, pore over scouting reports and bounce ideas about their pitchers off each other.
“I’m the bullpen coach,’’ Hasler said, “but I think it’s more than that because I’m doing a lot of different things that he allows and trusts me to do. I believe it’s working great.’’
Hasler’s strengths are delivery and communication, Cooper and Hasler say.
“He still challenges me when we’re watching our guys,’’ Hasler said. “He’ll say ‘what do you see? You tell me what you see before I talk,’ which is great. ‘Do you see this? Why is he doing that?’ ‘’
Cooper can come across as hard-nosed, with an edge, and he will bear down on a pitcher as needed, Hasler said. But he brings it with an upbeat, positive approach which pitchers respond to.
“Passion for the game, passion for getting guys better,’’ Hasler said.
“He has an uncanny knack to speak positive all the time. And I’m learning that, too. “He has the ability to say ‘You didn’t do well’ in a positive way. That rubs off on people around here.’’
Cooper and Hasler have faced unusual challenges with this staff during a rebuilding year. Chris Sale was traded, Jose Quintana has struggled and others like Miguel Gonzalez, Dylan Covey and Carlos Rodon have been hurt. Meanwhile, talented prospects like Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech, Carson Fulmer and Zach Burdi are moments away from being under their wing.
“It is an exciting time,’’ Hasler said. “It’s a new time for the White Sox and I’m enjoying the time we’re having. We’re just doing the day-by-day stuff and looking forward to what’s next.’’
WHITE SOX AT TWINS
Tuesday: Derek Holland (5-6, 3.79) vs. Ervin Santana (8-4, 2.56), 7:10, Ch. 9, 890-AM
Wednesday: David Holmberg (1-0, 2.63) vs. Jose Berrios (6-1, 2.74), 7:10, CSN, 890-AM
Thursday: Jose Quintana (3-8, 5.07) vs. TBA, 12:10, CSN, 890-AM