As part of their coaching shakeup last month the Phillies fired hitting coach Greg Gross and replaced him with Steve Henderson, and today they announced that Henderson will also have an assistant hitting coach in Wally Joyner.
Joyner spent 16 seasons in the majors as a lefty-hitting first baseman, batting .289 with more walks than strikeouts and 204 homers among 2,060 total hits. He briefly served as the Padres’ hitting coach a few years ago.
MLB teams are limited in the number of coaches they can have on staff, or at least in uniform on a daily basis, but the Phillies are able to add Joyner as an assistant hitting coach because they’re apparently going without a bench coach.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee has long been manager Charlie Manuel’s right-hand man anyway and new third base coach Ryne Sandberg will presumably fill some of the usual bench coach role as well.
And now a lineup that ranked eighth and seventh among NL teams in scoring during the past two seasons will have a pair of coaches devoted to putting more runs on the board.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.