Coming off a disappointing 74-88 season, the Blue Jays are making some changes to their coaching staff.
The team announced this evening that hitting coach Chad Mottola and first base coach Dwayne Murphy will not be back next season. Murphy, who has been with the team since 2008 and also served as hitting coach from 2010-2012, is retiring as a major league coach.
Mottola was a first-time hitting coach in 2013 under John Gibbons. The Blue Jays finished eighth in the AL with 712 runs scored and ninth with a .729 OPS, which isn’t too far off from where they were last season. Ultimately, injuries and underperformance in the starting rotation were the biggest factors for them being unable to meet the billing as preseason favorites.
Pablo Sandoval could be tabbed to play second base in the near future, per a report from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Shea, Sandoval has been spotted taking grounders at second during pre-game warm-ups and may be considering switching to the keystone on a part-time basis.
It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing the 31-year-old corner infielder has done this year — that distinction goes to the flawless inning of relief he pitched in a blowout loss against the Dodgers last month. But it would represent a pretty notable departure from his comfort zone even so; Sandoval has primarily manned first and third base throughout his 11-year career in the majors and has also taken a few reps at DH during his resurgence with the Giants in 2018.
Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent switch for Sandoval. As Shea points out, the Giants are thin on middle infielders after losing Joe Panik to a torn UCL in his left thumb and backup Alen Hanson to a left hamstring strain. Provided he can get up to speed quickly (no easy feat, according to infield coach Ron Wotus), he’d give the club some added depth behind Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez until Panik is ready to take the field again. Sandoval has impressed at the plate this spring, batting a healthy .270/.329/.429 with six extra-base hits and a .757 through 70 plate appearances.