Aardsma: Rothschild Should Stay

David Aardsma may be young. He may not have the years or the mileage that many of his fellow relievers have, but the 24-year-old Cubs pitcher says he speaks for the entire staff when proudly boasting that pitching coach Larry Rothschild should return next season.

Whether Rothschild or anyone else on recently departed manager Dusty Baker's coaching staff is back for next year remains in limbo.

On Monday, Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry said he would meet with the coaching staff to discuss their futures.

Baker himself will not be brought back next year after his contract expired with the team following Sunday's regular season finale. The Cubs finished 66-96 -- their worst record since 2000.

Aardsma made his Chicago debut this past season and appeared in 45 games from the bullpen. He first got a call-up from Triple-A in April, but struggled in four appearances before being sent back down.

He earned subsequent promotions in late May and again in late July, posting a 3.12 ERA and .198 average against after the All-Star break.

His message regarding Rothschild, the Cubs' pitching coach since 2002, is clear: he wants the veteran coach to stay on with the club and says the rest of the staff does, too.

"Honestly, Larry Rothschild was awesome," Aardsma said. "He was very hands-on, worked a lot with the guys and all the time was helping me. There's no question that I really hope that he's here next year. I think he's an unbelievable pitching coach. I hold him in very high regards."

"No question," Aardsma said when asked if his feelings on Rothschild possibly returning were echoed by the rest of the Cubs' pitching staff.

Aardsma finished the season 3-0 with a 4.08 ERA in 53 innings overall. He struck out 49 and walked 28, returning to the big league team on Aug. 3 once and for all through the remainder of the year.

With the strong finish he had, Aardsma hopes he has solidified himself at the major league level on into next year and beyond.

"I honestly felt like the way I was pitching the last month that I improved," said Aardsma, who allowed seven runs in his first six innings with the team this past season. "You never want to be happy with where you're at (progress-wise), but I was very happy with how my season ended up."

If Aardsma has earned his way onto next year's team, he'll be one of the many players having to adjust to a new manager.

"I liked Dusty a lot," Aardsma said. "He's a great manager. I've got nothing but great things to say about him and I think it's a huge loss in the organization, but obviously it's time for him to move on and to bring somebody else in. Now it's kind of a waiting game. It will be interesting to see who they bring in and who they want to lead the organization."

Following his post-game press conference with reporters on Sunday, Baker addressed his team for the final time. Aardsma took it all in.

"He told us that it had been a tough year and that we were better ballplayers than [our record]," Aardsma said. "A lot of things happen that you can't get away from: guys getting hurt and just getting off to a tough start. He said that no matter what happens, he hopes to see us somewhere else playing ball and working our [tails] off like we have all year."

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