My official view of hitting coaches is that they really don’t make a hell of a lot of difference. Maybe they help a guy here or there, maybe they don’t, but I bet that if we studied the matter closely, we’d find a pretty strong correlation between successful hitting coaches and hitting coaches who happened to have good hitters under their instruction.
That said, hitting coaches are often lightning rods for criticism. Larry Parrish of the Braves has certainly been that. For one thing, he replaced Terry Pendelton, who in addition to being popular, happened to preside over a Braves lineup that had the best OBP in the league last year. Why was he replaced? Because someone felt that new manager Fredi Gonzalez should be able to shape his staff his own way. Clearly no one had heard of the “if it ain’t broke” rule.
This year the Braves were 5th worst in OBP in all of baseball. A lot of that could be the talent level, as I noted above. Or it could be that Parrish’s approach — he preached aggressiveness at the plate — has made a mess of Braves hitters. The upshot: Parrish’s impact is hard to quantify, but he certainly suggested stuff that — if it sunk in — was likely to have a bad effect. And the Braves’ hitting was, in fact, bad in 2011.
But maybe we should take something larger from all of this. If Parrish was hired as a means of letting Fredi Gonzalez shape his staff, perhaps Gonzalez should feel insulted that his own man has been let go. Perhaps he should be exceedingly indignant at being undermined in such a blatant and public fashion!
That cuts it. I see no other choice but for Fredi Gonzalez to resign in protest. Protect your dignity, Fredi! It is the most important thing!
Rays’ right fielder Steven Souza Jr. left Saturday’s game after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch from Blue Jays’ right-hander Joe Biagini in the seventh inning. The pitch appeared to hit the top of Souza Jr.’s hand, causing the outfielder to crumple at the plate and requiring assistance from assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker as he exited the field. Postgame reports from the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin revealed that Souza Jr. sustained a left hand contusion and is scheduled to undergo further evaluation on Sunday.
While the diagnosis isn’t as bad as it could be, it’s still a tough break for the right fielder, who missed 40 days of the 2015 season after sustaining a fracture in his left hand on another hit by pitch. The team has yet to announce any concrete timetable for Souza Jr.’s return, though manager Kevin Cash indicated that they’ll be taking things day to day for the time being.
Souza Jr. is batting .326/.398/.543 with four home runs and 17 RBI through 104 PA in 2017. He went 1-for-2 with a base hit and a walk prior to his departure during Saturday’s 4-1 loss.
It’s been a slow start to the season for Yankees’ outfielder Brett Gardner, who entered Saturday’s matinee against the Orioles with a .188/.316/.234 batting line, three doubles and five stolen bases in his first 76 PA of the year. That all changed in the first inning of Saturday’s game, when Gardner skied a leadoff home run to right field:
Orioles’ right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez couldn’t find his footing against the Yankees in the second inning, either. Gardner returned for his second home run of the season, a three-run shot to lift New York 5-0 over Baltimore:
Measured at 411 feet in the right field bullpen, the left fielder’s blast marked the seventh home run hit by a Yankee this series. According to the club’s PR department, it’s also the first multi-home run game Gardner has recorded since September 2015. The Yankees currently lead the Orioles 7-0 through four innings.