Angels fire hitting coach Mickey Hatcher

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From beat writer Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com comes word that the Angels fired longtime hitting coach Mickey Hatcher late Tuesday night.

Triple-A Salt Lake hitting instructor Jim Eppard has been promoted to serve as Hatcher’s replacement.

The news comes with odd timing considering the Halos beat the A’s 4-0 on Tuesday in Anaheim, but this decision runs much deeper than one game.

The Angels have probably been the biggest disappointment of the 2012 baseball season’s first half and currently trail the American League West-leading Rangers by a whopping seven games. The offense has been shut out eight times already and ranked 23rd in the majors in runs scored heading into Tuesday’s game. Someone had to be the scapegoat.

It’s worth remembering that Hatcher had a small clash of philosophies with Albert Pujols back in late April, and that Hatcher is a nearly-lifelong friend of Angels manager Mike Scioscia. Maybe this is standard protocol in Anaheim, but GM Jerry Dipoto made Tuesday’s announcement. Scioscia was not present.

Miles Mikolas open to extension with Cardinals

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Though he has only accumulated just over two years of service time in the major leagues, Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas can become a free agent after the 2019 season due to language in his current two-year, $15.5 million contract. He is open to signing a contract extension with the Cardinals, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Mikolas said, “It’s something that the Cardinals and my agency have to work out – if the numbers work out and everything turns out to be it’s absolutely something that could happen.” His agent, from Octagon, has had discussions with the Cardinals about a framework for an extension.

Mikolas, 30, spent the 2015-17 seasons pitching for the Yomiuri Giants in the Japan Central League. He had great results, which he was able to leverage into a contract back in the U.S. Last season, his first in the majors since 2014, he finished sixth in NL Cy Young balloting and earned a spot on the NL All-Star roster. The right-hander went 18-4 with a 2.83 ERA and a 146/29 K/BB ratio in 200 2/3 innings.

This coming season, Mikolas will be part of a starting rotation that also includes Carlos Martínez, Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, and Adam Wainwright.