ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays relieved Derek Shelton of his duties as major league hitting coach Tuesday. Chad Mottola, who spent the past three seasons as a minor league hitting coordinator for the Rays, has been promoted to major league hitting coach. He will join the Rays for their four-game series at Yankee Stadium later this week.
"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. "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."
Mottola (muh-TOLE-uh), who turns 45 next month, becomes the seventh hitting coach in Rays history following Shelton (2010-16), Steve Henderson (1998, 2006-09), Lee Elia (2003-05), Milt May (2002), Wade Boggs (2001) and Leon Roberts (1999-2000). The 2017 season will be Mottola’s 26th season in professional baseball, 10th as a coach or instructor. Prior to joining the Rays organization, he spent seven seasons as a coach/instructor in the Toronto Blue Jays system including his final season in 2013 as the major league hitting coach. He served as the hitting coach for the Jays Triple-A affiliate Las Vegas 51s for three seasons (2010-12) and was roving hitting instructor in 2009. His first coaching assignment came in Dunedin, where he coached the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in 2008.
Mottola attended the University of Central Florida in Orlando and St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale. The former outfielder was selected fifth overall in the 1992 June Draft by the Cincinnati Redsâone pick before the New York Yankees selected Derek Jeter. He spent 16 seasons playing professionally, including parts of five seasons in the majors with the Reds (1996), Blue Jays (2000, 2006), Florida Marlins (2001) and Baltimore Orioles (2004). In 2000, he was named International League Most Valuable Player after hitting 33 home runs and 102 RBI for Triple-A Syracuse (Blue Jays). Mottola retired as a player after the 2007 season.
Shelton, who spent the past seven seasons in his position, was the longest-tenured hitting coach in Rays history. He was named to the post on October 21, 2009, following nearly five seasons as the Cleveland Indians hitting coach.