Reds hire Turner Ward from Dodgers as hitting coach
Cincinnati also hired Derek Johnson from Milwaukee as its pitching coach. The Dodgers and Brewers played in the NL Championship Series, with Los Angeles advancing to the World Series for the second straight year and losing to Boston.
Ward spent the last three seasons as the Dodgers’ hitting coach. They set club records for homers, extra-base hits and slugging percentage each of the last two seasons. The Dodgers led the NL with 235 homers last season.
Ward is from Alabama and was attracted to the Reds’ job in part because it would get him closer to home.
“The vision of what they’re trying to do, I can see it,” Ward said on a conference call. “I’ve been impressed with their offense. Also, add the logistics of being closer to home. Family is very important to me and it made it hard being in LA.”
The Reds finished eighth in the NL in runs and ninth in homers despite playing in one of its most hitter-friendly ballparks. They batted only .227 with runners in scoring position after the All-Star break, contributing to another losing season. The rebuilding Reds have dropped 98, 94, 94 and 95 games in the last four years, their worst such slump since the 1930s.
Bell knew Ward from their playing days and spent hours on Sunday talking to him about his hitting philosophy. Ward played 12 seasons in the majors with Cleveland, Toronto, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Arizona and Philadelphia.
“When I found out this was a possibility, I immediately got excited about it,” Bell said. “To Turner’s credit, he was willing to spend basically the entire day with me.”
The Reds fired manager Bryan Price after a 3-15 start and decided not to retain interim manager Jim Riggleman. Dick Williams, the president of baseball operations, said the Reds wanted to go outside the organization in its next step of rebuilding.
“We went into the offseason committed to putting new leadership in place in the clubhouse, and interested in seeing where that would take us,” Williams said. “We thought some new voices in the clubhouse and a variety of perspectives coming in from other organizations would be a good thing.”