The Texas Rangers weren’t necessarily looking to replace Scott Coolbaugh as the team’s hitting coach but the chance to get Dave Magadan was too good to pass up.
The Rangers named Magadan their new hitting coach Friday. He’ll replace Coolbaugh, who has been offered another job within the organization. The move comes just two weeks after the Rangers completed a late-season collapse that saw them ousted in the wild-card round by Baltimore.
“It’s not what happened the last two weeks by any stretch,” Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. “When you make a change, the headlines come out the next day and it’s the easy thing to suggest we’re putting this at one guy’s feet. It’s far from the truth. We’re just looking at areas to improve. We were not going to make a chance to this position unless we found somebody that wasn’t the perfect fit.”
Daniels said Magadan was the only person the Rangers talked to about the job. Had he decided to come somewhere else, the Rangers wouldn’t have pursued another coach.
“By no stretch is this singling out Scott Coolbaugh, far from it,” Daniels said. “We think Scott is an asset to the organization and talented and belongs here with the Rangers. We just felt we had the opportunity to get one of the best in the business and went that route.”
Magadan had been the Boston hitting coach since 2007 under both Terry Francona and Bobby Valentine. The club had an option to keep him but let him pursue other opportunities in the wake of the Valentine firing after the season.
It didn’t take Magadan long to feel like the Rangers were the right fit for him.
“It started with the first conversation with Jon Daniels,” Magadan said. “It’s almost like after a couple of conversations I felt like I was part of the family. Of course Wash I knew from my time in Oakland. I was always a big fan of his. It’s obviously the other things – the quality of talent on the team not only on the offensive side but on the pitching side, the desire to put out a winning team every year, which is what I’m used to here in Boston.”
Coolbaugh replaced Thad Bosley last June and the Rangers went on to lead the majors in batting average and finishing third in runs scored and slugging percentage. Texas hit .294 after Coolbaugh took over last year.
The Rangers finished second in the American League in batting average this season at .273 but it was their lowest total since 2009. The club still led the majors in runs scored and hits.
Despite the season statistics, the Rangers struggled offensively down the stretch, hitting just .247 in the final 29 games of the season.
Discipline was a buzzword both Daniels and manager Ron Washington used in describing what the Rangers want from their offense and what Magadan stresses. Washington should know as Magadan played two years in Oakland when Washington was a coach for the Athletics.
“I preach doing what the game asks you to do,” Washington said. “I think that’s what I’ve always said I want from an offense. That’s what he preaches – discipline, staying in the middle of the field, each individual, not cloning people.”
Magadan is the team’s fourth hitting coach since Rudy Jaramillo left following the 2009 season after 15 years on the job. Clint Hurdle had the job for 2010 and Bosley was hired for the 2011 season before getting fired.
Magadan played 16 seasons in the majors. He last played in 2001 and began his coaching career as San Diego’s minor league hitting instructor in 2002 and spent four years as the Padres hitting coach.
Daniels said the Rangers may be done making changes to their major-league staff but wouldn’t get into specifics. He also said the club hasn’t ruled out hiring an assistant hitting coach to help Magadan.