Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Surprise positional outlook: Hitting coach
By Richard Durrett
Today's position: Hitting coach
After interviewing several candidates following Clint Hurdle's departure after the season, the Rangers settled on Thad Bosley. The club's new hitting coach interviewed for the position before the 2010 season when Hurdle was hired to replace Rudy Jaramillo. Manager Ron Washington was familiar with Bosley from their days in Oakland. Bosley was the A's hitting coach for two seasons while Washington was the third base coach.
Josh Hamilton won't be the first MVP new hitting coach Thad Bosley has worked with.
Bosley brings with him a resume that includes working with MVPs Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada, an experience that should help him in his work with Josh Hamilton.
Bosley's challenge is to keep building on what Hurdle implemented. When Hurdle arrived before the 2010 season, the focus was on making the offense more versatile. Washington wanted a team that could not only hit the long ball, but move runners over, utilize its speed on the bases and come up with clutch hits. The 2010 Rangers did that, proving in the postseason (Tampa Bay can tell you all about it) that they could score runs in a variety of ways.
Part of Bosley's job is to make sure his hitters are in the right place mechanically. But the role of an instructor for a baseball team that is together every day for eight months or more is to be good at building relationships and keeping guys in engaged and motivated. Bosley has talked this offseason about both parts of the job. He's been working with some players in the batting cages at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and heads to spring training with an idea of each player's swing. He'll learn even more about their personalities during the six weeks in Arizona.
"I think I bring an understanding of what it means to compete at the major league level and what it means to come in a ballgame late," Bosley said last month in an interview with ESPNDallas.com. "You can’t take an at-bat for granted. I think the similarity between me and Clint is that we have a general understanding of hitting and we're both mental and mechanical. You have to keep it as simple as possible. We get into some sophisticated stuff, but it's about winning games. You’ve got to get guys to understand the importance of an at-bat and how one pitch in an at-bat can change a baseball game."
How Bosley communicates and gets his hitters ready for the season will be one of many things we'll keep an eye on this spring.