Dave Hansen will not return as Dodgers’ hitting coach next season

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According to Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers announced yesterday that Dave Hansen will not return as hitting coach next season. Meanwhile, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, bench coach Trey Hillman, third base coach Tim Wallach, first base coach Davey Lopes and bullpen coach Kenny Howell are all slated to return.

Hansen was promoted from hitting instructor to hitting coach last July after Jeff Pentland was fired, but he’s taking the hit after the Dodgers finished 16th in batting average and 26th in runs and on-base percentage this season. However, he has been offered another position within the organization.

No word on a potential replacement for Hansen, but Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune speculated this morning that Rudy Jaramillo could be a potential fit. Jaramillo was fired as hitting coach of the Cubs in June during his third season on the job. One of the more highly-respected hitting instructors in the game, the 61-year-old previously served as hitting coach with the Rangers from 1995-2009.

Of course, whoever replaces Hansen will look like a genius if the Dodgers get full and healthy seasons from the likes of Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford.

Cardinals encourage players not to hide injuries

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In Major League Baseball, players are routinely pressured to play through injury and pain. Sometimes it’s just a minor ache, and sometimes it’s a very serious injury. The pressure comes from everywhere: the players themselves, their peers, coaches, front offices, media, and fans. Players who develop a reputation for landing on the disabled list are described as “soft” and “fragile.” Players who battle through the pain get talked about as “gritty” and “dedicated.”

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals are trying to encourage their players to be more honest about their health. The culture surrounding this is tough to change, but manager Mike Matheny wants his players to come to him if “anything that is off.” As Goold notes, Alex Reyes and Matt Bowman revealed they were, in Bowman’s words, not “entirely forthcoming.” Carlos Martinez said he pitched tentatively because he was “scared” of re-injuring himself. Matheny also called pitcher Michael Wacha “a great liar” when talking about his arm health.

Matt Carpenter has also played through injury and takes pride in it. He’s an example of the old mentality the club is trying to pierce through. Caarpenter said, “I’m a believer in if you’re getting paid to do a job and you’re capable of doing the job — even if it’s 85 percent of your best — I feel you have the obligation to be out there. That is the mentality I’ve always used. I could have very easily, at times last year, sat on the [disabled list], but I felt like I could still go out and do my job.”

Goold points out that players approach dealing with health issues differently depending on where they’re at in their careers. A young player who just got called up has pressure to stay in the big leagues and appear in games, so he may not want to address a health issue. A player who has already secured a multi-year contract may have less pressure on him and thus may be more willing to come to the trainer’s room.

I’ve long believed that player health will be the next arena in which front offices will separate themselves from the pack. Analytics had been that battleground for a while, but with every club now having an analytics department in some capacity, front offices will have to find value in new ways. Limiting the amount of time that players miss due to injury would be a significant boost for a team and it will start with players being forthcoming about what’s bothering them rather than trying to fight through pain.