Cubs coach McKay joins Arizona

The Chicago Cubs' prolonged search for a new manager might have cost them one of their best coaches.

Former first-base and outfield coach Dave McKay accepted the same position with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday.

"It was the right time," McKay said via phone. "The Cubs were great in keeping me up to date with things, and the Diamondbacks were patient, but the time was right."

McKay joins Arizona on the same day the Cubs interviewed their sixth managerial candidate, former catcher Brad Ausmus.

McKay is considered one of the best in the business at teaching outfield defense. He was one of Tony LaRussa’s most trusted coaches for more than two decades before joining the Cubs when LaRussa retired after the 2011 season. He’s credited with improving former Cub Alfonso Soriano’s defensive play, as well as many St. Louis Cardinals, who swear by his teachings.

"Chicago was great, but I live in Arizona and this was a good opportunity," McKay said.

McKay was told he would have a chance to return to Chicago after the Cubs hired a new manager but the manager would have final say. He understood the process but didn’t want to wait any longer, hence signing up with Arizona on Friday.

With a group of young outfielders making their way to Wrigley Field -- including converted infielder Junior Lake -- the loss of McKay could have a bigger impact than first thought.

Losing one of the best in the business at what he does isn’t something the Cubs can afford in their rebuilding project. Without knowing who McKay’s replacement will be, the Cubs' coaching staff took a step backward on Friday.