Angels fire hitting coach Mickey Hatcher
Anaheim, Calif. — When a team expected to
contend for a World Series championship gets off to poor start, someone — usually
the hitting or pitching coach — pays the price. It's almost a baseball tradition.
Sometimes the move helps. Last season the Dodgers fired hitting coach Jeff
Pentland on July 20, replacing him with assistant Dave Hansen, and the team
shook off its season-long doldrums to finish up with an 82-79 record.
Now, it's the Angels turn to see if a similar move will pay dividends.
Mickey Hatcher, hitting coach for the Angels since Mike Scioscia took over as
manager in 2000, was relieved of his duties following a 4-0 win over Oakland on
Tuesday afternoon at Angel Stadium. He was replaced by Triple-A hitting
instructor Jim Eppard, who's been with the organization for a decade.
The announcement was made by first-year GM Jerry Dipoto, citing the need for
different ways of coaching the Angels hitters, who are struggling with a .247
average, 13th out of 14 American League teams.
"We think the absolute world of Mickey as a person and thank him for all
of his contributions to this organization," Dipoto said in the statement released
by the organization.
"Sometimes in the sports world a point is reached where perhaps a new
voice is needed in order to attain the desired goals and objectives.
Unfortunately we feel this is one of those times. Offensively we have
underachieved and everyone shares in the responsibility of what has transpired
Hatcher has been a part of six playoff teams, and was the hitting coach when
the Halos won their only World Series in franchise history in 2002. That squad
was known for its amazing ability to get timely hits and pull off
come-from-behind victories throughout the season following a 6-14 start.
In 2009, when the Angels played the New York Yankees in the ALCS — losing in
six games — the offense was prolific. They set team regular-season records with
a .285 average, 841 RBI, 883 runs and 1,604 hits.
Reached Tuesday night, the affable Hatcher, one of the most well-liked figures
in the game, had nothing but kind words for the Angels and their management.
"We had a great run for 13 seasons," Hatcher said.
"Unfortunately, it just wasn't working out this season. But that doesn't
take away from what we all accomplished with this team. My fellow coaches are
the greatest guys to work with, and of course Mike is one of the best managers,
if not the best manager, in baseball.
"I appreciate the opportunity that I was given to work in this
organization for the last 13 years, and no matter how it ended, it was a
tremendous experience. I'd like to thank (owner) Arte and Carol Moreno for the
way they treated me and my wife (Patti). They're great people and it was great
to be here when Arte bought the team.
"This is a talented group of guys, no matter what the numbers say. It's
only a matter of time before this team turns it around."
Hatcher also said he's been offered a chance to remain with
the Angel organization.
"Yes I was," the 12-year major league veteran said. "That was a
nice thing for Jerry to do, and they made it clear that they'd really like for
me to stay. So, we'll see how that works out down the road. Jerry handled it
with a lot of class."
Scioscia was thankful of Hatcher's contributions and saddened by the departure of his friend and colleague.
"Mickey is one of the best teachers in the game," Scioscia said,
"and he's been a major factor in the success we've had here with the
Angels over the past 12 years. You can't overestimate how much of an impact
Mickey has had on our players. He knows the game as well as anyone I've ever
been around. I'm hoping that Mickey stays with us and is able to contribute to
our success in a different capacity."
Scioscia acknowledged that it had to be a tough move for Dipoto to make.
"That kind of thing is never easy," said Scioscia, who will manage
his 2,000th game later this season. "It's Jerry's responsibility as GM to
keep the club moving forward and do what he thinks is best for the