Mark Grace’s time with the Diamondbacks organization has been a real roller-coaster, since he signed with the team as a free-agent in December 2000. There was the glory that was the World Series win in his first season, and a successful run as the team’s color commentator after his retirement from the game at the end of 2003. But there was also the infamous open-mic incident and, much worse, more than one brush with the law for drink driving. His October 2012 conviction, and the subsequent jail sentence, led to Grace’s departure from the booth.
However, the team kept faith, and after a stint as hitting coach for the Hillsboro Hops, he returned to Chase Field as assistant hitting coach in 2015-16. The arrival of the new front office then led to significant changes in the coaching staff, not least the appointment of new manager Torey Lovullo, and Grace was let go from his position on November 7 last year. Mark still retained his close ties to the team, and for example, took part in the team’s fantasy camp in January. And it now appears there may be a return to broadcasting - albeit perhaps not as an in-game contributor.
For the Chicago Tribune wrote today about the possibility of Grace coming back to the Cubs - a franchise for which he played 13 seasons before joining Arizona. It included this section [emphasis added]
He has considerable broadcasting experience and is under consideration as a pre and postgame television commentator for the Diamondbacks, who elected not to retain him as an assistant hitting coach after Torey Lovullo took over as manager. Grace emphasized that he would be working for Fox Arizona if hired for Diamondbacks telecasts, thus ruling out any conflict of interest if he works for another organization.
It’s the first word we’ve heard that Grace could be returning to work with our local broadcast team - though it’s important to note that the job in question would not apparently be directly in the booth. Which would make sense for both parties, because Bob Brenly is doing a perfectly fine job as color commentator. Additionally, as the second part of the paragraph points out, working for the TV company, rather than the team, would offer him greater flexibility if he did opt to pursue any opportunities offered by the Cubs. A role like that occupied last season by Brandon Webb, offering analysis alongside the likes of Jody Jackson, would seem to be one possibility.
Certainly, Grace still holds a great deal of goodwill among local fans, despite his legal issues - or perhaps because of them, as the humble way in which he publicly owned responsibility for the second incident and took his punishment was generally lauded. His trademark statements and beliefs remain part of SnakePitSpeak, whether justified or not - any time a particularly large relief pitcher comes into the game, we hark back nostalgically to Grace’s oft-expressed fondness for “corn fed” players. But on the other hand, do NOT get me started on “good things happen when you put the ball in play,” unless you’re uttering it sarcastically after a double-play...
I wouldn’t mind him popping up occasionally as an analyst. While Webb and Joe Borowski have both been solid, for obvious reasons, their area of expertise is pitching. A career .113 MLB hitter like Brandon isn’t ever going to be able to offer much in the way of insights into hitting, so Grace would be a nice complementary expert. We’ll see what the next chapter in the Mark Grace story entails.