In a move that likely will delight scores of Angels fans, the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday made a change to their coaching staff, adding Salt Lake City (AAA) hitting instructor Jim Eppard to replace Mickey Hatcher.
“We think the absolute world of Mickey as a person and thank him for all of his contributions to this organization,” said GM Jerry Dipoto.
Hatcher, 57, was in his 13th season as the Angels hitting coach, and 36th in professional baseball. His 2009 hitters set several franchise records including average (.285) hits (1,604), runs (883) and RBI (841). Hatcher played 12 years in the Major Leagues, and was a former teammate of Angels skipper Mike Scioscia.
However, Hatcher had drawn the ire of fans over the years whenever the Halos' bats grew cold, as seen during Vernon Wells' season-long slump last year.
This season things grew even more shaky for Hatcher when a dispute with Angels star slugger Albert Pujols became public. The fact that Pujols has struggled at the plate the entire season also did Hatcher no favors.
“Sometimes in the sports world a point is reached where perhaps a new voice is needed in order to attain the desired goals and objectives. Unfortunately we feel this is one of those times. Offensively we have underachieved and everyone shares in the responsibility of what has transpired thus far,” added Dipoto.
Eppard, 52, played professional baseball for 12 years, including four at the Major League level with the California Angels and Toronto Blue Jays. He won minor league batting titles in 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1990. While with Edmonton in 1987, Eppard led the PCL with a .341 average.
The 2012 campaign represents Eppard’s 10th season in the Angels organization. In 2008, Salt Lake finished sixth in the league in average at .285, fifth in home runs (168), and fourth in the league in total hits (1,426).
The fact that Eppard enjoyed prior success coaching some of the Angels on the roster probably factored into Dipoto's decision.
Under Eppard’s direction in 2010, current Angel Mark Trumbo led all of Triple-A in home runs (36), while Peter Bourjos set PCL records for hits and runs scored in July.
By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services