Dave Eiland, one of Zephyrhills’ most celebrated sports figures, was let go as pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals after six seasons with the major league ball club.
The move to not renew Eiland’s contract — first reported by the Kansas City Star on Oct. 2— was part of a greater staff shakeup as the club enters the offseason following an 80-82 season. The club also opted to part ways with three other coaches.
Eiland, who oversaw pitching staffs that helped the organization reach two World Series, was hired by manager Ned Yost after the 2011 season, making him the longest-tenured member of the Royals coaching staff.
But, Kansas City pitchers struggled under Eiland this past season, combining to post a 4.61 ERA, the sixth-worst mark in the American League.
Moreover, it was the fourth straight season the Royals’ ERA slipped. It was 4.21 in 2016, 3.73 in 2015, 3.51 in 2014 and 3.45 in 2013.
Still, some industry pundits believe Eiland, 51, soon will get another big league coaching opportunity, based on his past experience and reputation, and considering the Royals overall lack of front-line talent in the rotation to begin with.
Before the Royals gig, Eiland was the pitching coach for the New York Yankees (2008-2010), and served in an advisory role, as a special assistant for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011. Earlier in his career, he worked as a pitching coach in the minor leagues for several years in the Yankees organization.
Eiland, the son of the revered Zephyrhills police Chief Bill Eiland, graduated from Zephyrhills High School in 1984 as an all-everything athlete. In addition to baseball, Eiland stood out in football, basketball and golf.
He later went on to play baseball at the University of South Florida and was taken by the New York Yankees in the seventh round of the 1987 amateur draft.
That culminated in a decade long MLB career, which included two stints with Yankees (1988-1991 and 1995) as well as the San Diego Padres (1992-1993) and Tampa Bay Rays (1998-2000).
Published Oct. 11, 2017