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Skip’s in: Cardinals hiring Schumaker as bench coach, bringing back admired leadoff hitter for Marmol’s staff

Skip’s in: Cardinals hiring Schumaker as bench coach, bringing back admired leadoff hitter for Marmol’s staff

Wainwright gets doused with champagne after NLDS in 2011 (copy)

The Cardinals' Skip Schumaker pours champagne on pitcher Adam Wainwright in the clubhouse after the Cards beat the Phillies 1-0 in the decisive Game 5 of the 2011 National League Division Series in Philadelphia. Teammate Chris Carpenter pitched a complete game. 

After several weeks of conversation and discussions on how to fit the job to the person they identified early as a leading candidate, the Cardinals are hiring former player Skip Schumaker as bench coach.

John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations, confirmed the agreement to the Post-Dispatch.

An announcement is expected early this coming week.

The two sides are finalizing the agreement this weekend.

Cardinals new manager Oliver Marmol had talked with Schumaker many times over the past few weeks about joining his staff. The Cardinals sought a bench coach who had familiarity with their team but recognized the value of seeking someone who had an outside view. For Schumaker, a consideration was the time that he would be spending away from family.

Schumaker, 41, was the associate manager and bench coach for the Padres this past season. He began his coaching career with the Padres, and that allowed him to be close to his family.

The Cardinals’ fifth-round selection in the 2001 draft, Schumaker debuted with the Cardinals in 2005 and by 2008 was an everyday player. He began his career as an outfielder, but when the Cardinals had a need at second base and a wish to keep him at leadoff hitter, he learned the new position at the highest level. Schumaker hit .283 with a .333 on-base percentage for the Cardinals’ 2011 team, and in addition to be being the batter at the plate for that October’s “Rally Squirrel” event, he had the RBI that provided the lone run in Chris Carpenter’s epic, elimination 1-0 victory against Philadelphia.

Schumaker has remained close with Cardinals teammates such as Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina.

During his 11 seasons in the majors, Schumaker played for the Cardinals, Dodgers, and Reds. He last played in the majors in 2015, and the next spring signed a minor-league deal with San Diego. He opted to retire that season and it didn’t take long for the Padres to lure him back to coaching. He was the team’s first-base coach in 2018 and advanced from there to a bench coach-like position San Diego called associate manager.

The Cardinals’ bench coach position was opened by the promotion of Marmol to manager. The Cardinals explored multiple directions they could go with the bench coach, though their interest in a reunion with Schumaker was clear early on. Among other external candidates considered, the Cardinals had discussions with Donnie Ecker, the San Francisco Giants hitting coach who was recently hired by Texas as bench coach and offensive coordinator.

The Cardinals initially spoke to Schumaker about returning to the team in a dugout role, most likely bench coach, before announcing Marmol as manager.

The Cardinals have at least one more opening on the coaching staff with the departure of assistant hitting coach Jobel Jimenez. Marmol said the team is also discussing ways they might expand his coaching staff and positions that could be added from previous years. The Cardinals have discussed bringing in a former player for a hitting coach position. Ryan Ludwick, an All-Star in 2008 with the Cardinals, has served as a hitting instructor in the minors and been mentioned as a possible fit.

The Cardinals intended to bring back the entirety of Mike Shildt’s staff from 2021, and many of the Cardinals’ coaches who had expiring contracts received raises and multi-year offers, including first-base coach Stubby Clapp. Hitting coach Jeff Albert and pitching coach Mike Maddux already had contracts through the 2022 season.

The team has not officially announced the coaching staff, waiting until it could at least finalize the bench coach spot. That meant working with Schumaker on the right offer for him and his family over the past week.

Additionally, the Cardinals had another departure to the Angels’ organization in the past week. Joe Kruzel, a minor-league manager with the team, has been hired to work with the Angels’ minor-league system as a field coordinator. This past month, Carpenter, the former Cy Young Award winner, accepted a position with the Angels to work with pitchers throughout their organization.

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