Last-place Pirates fire hitting coach Rick Eckstein

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PITTSBURGH — The last-place Pittsburgh Pirates have fired hitting coach Rick Eckstein.

The team made the announcement on Monday. The Pirates, who are in the early stages of a reboot under general manager Ben Cherington, have struggled to produce offense all season.

Pittsburgh entered Monday last in the majors in runs scored, home runs, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging. The Pirates are also 27th in the majors in batting average and are on their way to a third straight last-place finish in the NL Central.

“Making the decision now gives us the opportunity to use the rest of the season to focus on improvements in our hitting program while also starting the process of looking for a replacement,” Cherington said in a statement. “We wish Rick all the best moving forward.”

Former general manager Neal Huntington hired Eckstein, the brother of former major league second baseman David Eckstein, in November 2018.

The Pirates have overhauled their coaching staff since Eckstein joined the organization. The front office has been focused on stockpiling prospects, many of whom are still several years away from reaching the majors, leaving Eckstein little to work with.

Guardians trade OF Will Benson to Reds for OF Justin Boyd

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Guardians traded outfielder Will Benson to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday for outfielder Justin Boyd.

The defending AL Central champions also will get a player to be named from the Reds in the swap.

Cincinnati drafted Boyd in the second round last year out of Oregon State. He led the Pac-12 with a .373 batting average and 24 steals in 2022. The 21-year-old batted .203 in 73 at-bats for Class-A Daytona.

The 6-foot-5 Benson spent 28 games with the Guardians last season, batting .182 with three RBIs in 28 games. The 24-year-old struggled at the plate, striking out 19 times in just 55 at-bats.

Benson was once considered one of Cleveland’s top outfield prospects, but has since been surpassed by Steven Kwan, Oscar Gonzalez and Will Brennan.