The news that Clint Hurdle is leaving the Rangers to take the managing job with the Pittsburgh Pirates means the Rangers are searching for a third hitting coach in as many seasons.
Hurdle was chosen from a group of four finalists this time last year. He came in with a mission to make the Rangers better situational hitters. The Rangers offense put up just a .260 average in 2009, 11th in the AL. But under Hurdle's leadership, Texas improved to .276 as a team, tops in the majors. The Rangers were fourth in the AL in runs with 787. They were also fourth in on-base percentage, a marked improvement over 2009.
Hurdle took over for Rudy Jaramillo, who was for many Rangers the only hitting coach they'd known at the major league level. But Hurdle's hard work and attitude -- he's constantly texting players and coaches with inspirational messages -- helped him fit in very quickly. He stressed consistent at-bats, reminding players that a good at-bat isn't always a hit. It's about moving runners over and doing the little things to help score runs. And the Rangers did a good job of that in 2010.
So where do the Rangers go from here? Well, the good news is with the Rangers' lineup and success in 2010, plenty of coaches will be interested in coming to Texas for 2011. The Rangers will look at all options. We'll see if that includes any of the finalists that were in the mix last year. That list was narrowed to four before Hurdle was chosen: Rusty Greer, Gerald Perry and Thad Bosley.
Bosley was the hitting coach for Oakland for two seasons while manager Ron Washington was on staff. He was named the head coach of Southwestern College in Phoenix in June. Perry was hired to be the hitting coach of the Oakland A's last month. Greer, a former Rangers outfielder, was also in the mix for the job in 2009. Texas could look at some internal candidates as well, including Johnny Naron and Scott Coolbaugh, who has been the Triple-A hitting coach in Oklahoma City the past two seasons.
So we'll see how the Rangers handle the search. Hurdle did a solid job and has earned the chance to manage again. My bet: He does well in Pittsburgh.