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July 23, 2013

What You Need to Know

The Nats' New Hitting Coach

by Daniel Rathman


The Monday Takeaway
On Sunday afternoon, Jayson Werth hit two home runs, he and his teammates went hitless with runners in scoring position, and the Nationals lost, falling to two games under .500.

On Monday morning, the Nationals fired hitting coach Rick Eckstein, scapegoating him for the team’s season-long struggle to drive in runs, and named Rick Schu as his replacement. Davey Johnson was not pleased with the decision, which came just a month after general manager Mike Rizzo insisted that Eckstein’s job was safe.

And, hours later, Jayson Werth hit two home runs, he and his teammates went hitless with runners in scoring position, and the Nationals lost, falling to three games under .500 for the first time since September 24, 2011.

Schu will not join the big-league club until Tuesday, and even if he had been in the dugout to witness Monday night’s loss to the Pirates, it would be unfair to judge the decision to fire Eckstein on one game. Still, in light of Johnson’s comments and the other clubhouse reactions mentioned in the afore-linked story by Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, the hitting-coach switch smacks of an organization grasping at straws.

That’s what happens when a club many favored to win its division and build on a breakout 2012 campaign tumbles into third place, a season-high eight games behind the first-place Braves, and now looking up at the Phillies, a team generally perceived to be trending downward. The Nationals were 6-for-72 with runners in scoring position over their previous nine games heading into Monday’s series opener versus the Pirates, and they had lost seven of them. Now, they are 6-for-75 over their past 10 contests, of which they have dropped eight.

The Nationals rallied in the ninth inning against Jason Grilli, plating two runs on Werth’s blast, which followed a leadoff walk drawn by Adam LaRoche. But after Denard Span doubled with one away, Wilson Ramos struck out and pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi grounded out—against Vin Mazzaro, who entered when Grilli left with an ailing arm—to seal the defeat.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit Lis... (07/23)
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