Rockies add Hensley Meulens as hitting coach to bolster offense

USA TODAY NETWORK
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DENVER — The Colorado Rockies brought in Hensley Meulens to serve as hitting coach after back-to-back subpar seasons at the plate.

Meulens was an assistant hitting coach for the New York Yankees in 2022. He will be counted on to revamp a Rockies lineup that hit .254 last season, the second-lowest mark behind only the 2021 squad (.249). Meulens takes over for Dave Magadan.

In addition, the Rockies announced they added Warren Schaeffer to the coaching staff as the third base/infield coach. Schaeffer served as the manager of the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes from 2020-22, along with being the team’s third-base coach and infield instructor. Schaeffer steps in for Stu Cole.

“They (Meulens and Schaeffer) both bring their own unique set of skills and experiences to our club and they could not be more respected throughout both our organization and across all of baseball,” Rockies manager Bud Black said in a statement.

Colorado is bringing back for the 2023 season bench coach Mike Redmond, pitching coach Darryl Scott, first-base coach Ron Gideon and bullpen coach Reid Cornelius, along with assistant hitting coaches Andy Gonzalez and P.J. Pilittere.

Meulens was part of the San Francisco Giants when they won three World Series titles, serving as hitting coach (2010-17) and bench coach (2018-19). He became the bench coach for the New York Mets in 2020.

The 55-year-old Meulens spent parts of seven seasons in the majors, including stints with the Yankees (1989-93), Montreal (1997) and Arizona (1998). The outfielder/infielder from Curacao also played for the Chiba Lotte Marines and Yakult Swallows of Nippon Professional Baseball.

Colorado finished the 2022 season with a .398 slugging percentage, marking the first time they’ve been below the .400 mark.

The Rockies wound up 43 games behind the NL West-winning Los Angeles Dodgers.

Phillies select active duty Navy aviator in MLB Rule 5 draft

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SAN DIEGO — The Philadelphia Phillies took U.S. Navy aviator Noah Song in the Rule 5 draft Wednesday, hoping the former top pitching prospect can still be effective once he completes his military service.

There is no definitive date on when the 25-year-old Song might be able to join the Phillies.

Song was picked from the Boston Red Sox system in the draft for unprotected minor league players. Philadelphia put him on the military list while he continues his active duty and he won’t count on the 40-man roster, the pool from which major league teams can select players for the 26-man active roster.

Song impressed in his only pro season, making seven starts for Boston’s Class A Lowell affiliate in 2019, with a 1.06 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17 innings. With a fastball clocked in the upper 90s mph, the right-hander dominated that year as a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy, going 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings.

The Red Sox drafted Song in the fourth round – he likely would’ve gone much higher, but his impending military service caused teams to back off.

In November 2019, Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a memo clearing the way for athletes at the nation’s military academies to delay their service commitments and play pro sports after graduation. Song’s request to have those new rules retroactively applied to his case was denied.

Song began school as a flight officer in the summer of 2020 and finished that phase last April. He started additional aviation training in May.

Song was among the 15 players, including three Boston pitchers, taken in the big league phase of the Rule 5 draft, which wasn’t held last year because of the MLB lockout.

Washington took righty Thad Ward from Boston’s Triple-A roster with the first pick. Baltimore took Red Sox minor league pitcher Andrew Politi with the ninth choice and the Phillies chose Song with the 11th selection.

Teams pay $100,000 to take players in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. The players must stay on the big league roster next season or go on waivers and, if unclaimed, be offered back to their original organization for $50,000.