Tampa Bay Rays: Fire Hitting Coach Derek Shelton

Changes have started coming for the Tampa Bay Rays as a surprising move with a month left in the season fired hitting coach Derek Shelton.

The Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday made a move that some will say was long overdue as they made the decision to fire hitting Coach Derek Shelton who was often criticized by the fans for their lack of offensive production.

Chad Mottola, the Rays minor league hitting coordinator for the past three seasons was promoted.

He will join the team on Thursday in New York when the Rays open up their four-game series against the Yankees.

Shelton hired in Oct. 2009 by former manager Joe Maddon to replace Steve Henderson, was the longest tenured hitting coach in Ray’s history.

Prior to the Rays hiring, Shelton spent the five prior seasons with the Cleveland Indians as their hitting coach.

He is under contract through the 2017 season, for which the Rays are responsible for.

“I was surprised that it happened, especially during the season, with a month left,” Shelton said. They wanted a new message. And they made a decision they wanted someone else to be in charge of the offense.”

Despite 8th in the majors with 181 home runs entering Tuesday, the Rays are 22nd in the majors in runs scored (576), 27th in batting average (.243) and 16th in OPS (.309).

They also have the third-worst strikeout percentage (24.1 percent) in all of baseball.

“We are grateful for all that Derek has given to the Rays for the past seven seasons. He brought great energy to our clubhouse and his work ethic with our hitters was outstanding,” said Rays President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman.

Since making the playoffs in 2013 they have recorded back-to-back fourth place finishes and are headed to their first last place finish since 2007 when they were the “Tampa Bay Devil Rays.”

“We decided it was time for a new voice.

Chad has worked with players throughout the organization for several years now and we are excited for the perspectives and experiences he will bring to this role.”

Prior to joining the Tampa Bay Rays organization, Mottola spent the 2013 season as the hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Mottola was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds with the fifth overall selection in the 1992 draft and made his major league debut in 1996 with the Reds.

Playing professionally for 16 seasons, which included parts of five in the majors with the Reds (1996), Blue Jays (2000, 2006), Florida Marlins (2001) and Baltimore Orioles (2004), Mottola only played in 59 games.

Mottola finished with a .200 career average, four home runs and 12 RBIs.

In 2000, Mottola playing for the Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A team in Syracuse, hit 33 home runs with 102 RBIs and was named International League Most Valuable Player.

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