The last-place Chicago Cubs fired hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo on Tuesday, hoping a new voice and direction on the major league staff will help the struggling lineup get on base more.
Article continues below ...
James Rowson, the organization’s minor league hitting coordinator, was chosen to replace Jaramillo on an interim basis. The 35-year-old Rowson was a minor league coach with the Yankees for six seasons before joining the Cubs over the winter. This is his first major league job.
”This goes beyond Rudy, but our on-base percentage as an organization has gone down five consecutive years,” president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. ”It’s not at an acceptable level right now. We need to do a better job at that.
”Is Rudy the reason why we’re not producing offensively? No, not at all. That’s something we own as an organization, and I own as someone who helped put the roster together. I don’t think this had to do with any departing players or Rudy’s performance,” Epstein added. ”It was more philosophical.”
Chicago entered Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Tigers ranked No. 27 in the majors with a .304 on-base percentage. The Cubs also were ranked 27th with 222 runs scored and No. 19 with a .247 team batting average.
”I think we all have to suffer the consequences for the results,” first-year manager Dale Sveum said. ”We’re not putting the results on Rudy. It’s just more of a timing (thing).
”Rudy never changed. Rudy works as hard as any hitting coach I’ve ever seen and mechanically is as good as anybody that I’ve been around,” he said. ”We’re just searching for a kind of different message, different philosophy.”
Jaramillo was the hitting coach for the Texas Rangers for 15 seasons before taking the same job with the Cubs in October 2009. He was in his third season under his third manager.
Epstein said he was part of a meeting with Jaramillo about three weeks ago where the hitting coach was asked to make some adjustments. He said they continued to evaluate the situation before deciding it was best to go with a new voice to emphasize their message.
”I guess this was the time to make a change here, and it’s unfortunate,” second baseman Darwin Barney said. ”You never like to see somebody go, but we want to move forward. We’ve got to focus on trying to win ballgames, and we’re going to miss Rudy.”
Rowson was a minor league hitting coach in the Los Angeles Angels’ system for four seasons before joining the Yankees. The ex-outfielder was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the ninth round of the 1994 draft, but never made it to the majors.
”He’s done an excellent job in his role as minor league hitting coordinator,” Epstein said. ”We thought it would be appropriate for us to see what he can do up here and have him provide a new voice and a new message for the big league hitters as well.”