Blue Jays hire Chad Mottola as hitting coach, announce DeMarlo Hale as bench coach

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As expected the Blue Jays have officially announced that DeMarlo Hale has left his position as Orioles third base coach to become their new bench coach and Toronto also named Chad Mottola hitting coach.

Mottola was the fifth overall pick in the 1992 draft–one spot ahead of some guy named Derek Jeter–but played just 59 games in the majors and spent 16 seasons in the minors, the last of which was 2007. After retiring Mottola worked his way up from rookie-ball to Triple-A, serving as Las Vegas’ hitting coach in the Blue Jays’ farm system this year.

Baltimore had hoped to retain Hale as third base coach, but instead he’ll join manager John Gibbons’ staff two years after interviewing to become the Blue Jays manager during a search that ultimately ended in John Farrell getting the job.

Gibbons’ staff will also include Pete Walker as pitching coach, Dwayne Murphy as first base coach, and Luis Rivera as third base coach.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.