The Tampa Bay Rays just announced that they have fired hitting coach Derek Shelton. They have promoted minor league hitting coordinator Chad Mottola to take the job. No word if that’s an interim promotion or if the job is Mottola’s for good.
Shelton was in his seventh season as Rays hitting coach. The Rays enter today’s action ranked last in the AL in batting average (.243) and 12th in runs scored. They were 14th in runs scored last year, 15th in 2014, 13th in 2013 and 12th in 2012, though it was only a 14-team league that year and in years prior.
Hitting coaches likely have less impact on their charges than any other kind of coach — talent is what dictates offense — but when your charges are at or near the bottom in runs scored every year, eventually you’re gonna take the fall.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters today that it was “unlikely” that Michael Conforto will make the opening roster.
Not shocking given the shoulder surgery he had back in September, but given that he seems to be recovering more quickly than first anticipated, it was worth Alderson’s time to make the announcement. Indeed, back in December it was not expected that he’d see much if any game action at all during spring training, but here he is, playing DH today in the Mets game against the Cardinals.
Conforto missed the last six weeks of the 2017 season with a left shoulder injury and underwent surgery in early September to repair a tear of the posterior capsule in his shoulder. He finished the season batting .279/.384/.555 with 27 home runs and 68 RBI in 440 plate appearances. By the looks of things, he should be back some time in April.