Jeff Manto fired as hitting coach
CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto was fired Saturday after two seasons on the job.
The team announced Manto's dismissal after its 6-5 win over the Kansas City Royals. Manto, 49, joined the organization as minor-league hitting coordinator in November 2007, before being promoted to the big league club in 2012.
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"Obviously, this has been a very disappointing season and one of the main areas of disappointment has been our offensive performance," general manager Rick Hahn said after making Manto's dismissal official. "We are at the bottom of several important offensive categories, including, most importantly, runs scored as well as walks and on-base percentage. It's our belief that the best way to begin to address some of those issues is to get a new voice in here to work with our hitters."
The White Sox's offense was among the worst in the AL this season, after finishing fourth in runs scored last year. It started the day last in runs scored, tied for last in slugging percentage and next to last in on-base percentage. Poor play, combined with injuries, put the White Sox at an early disadvantage and the team never recovered.
A back injury put a dent in the production of middle-of-the-order mainstay Paul Konerko, leaving him with a .247 batting average, 12 home runs and 54 RBIs, totals well below his career averages.
"It's such a delicate and fragile thing," Konerko said. "I'm sure I can't speak for him, but there was no difference in the way we worked or the way the team worked. There was as much early hitting as there was last year. The information before the games, all that stuff, that's the only stuff they have control over. It was all the same. It's just a matter of guys executing on the field. You're kind of at the mercy of that."
Emerging slugger Dayan Viciedo was sidelined early in the season by an oblique injury. When he returned, pitchers took advantage of an over-aggressive approach. Adam Dunn cut down slightly on his strikeout totals, but was mostly hot and cold during the season despite 34 home runs and 86 RBIs.
"You're not going to find a better hitting coach," Dunn said. "He does everything you want a hitting coach to do but again, it's one of those things where you can't fire all of us. Obviously changes needed to be made and he's the guy."
Hahn said that no other changes on the coaching staff will be made. Manager Robin Ventura will head into the 2014 season in the final year of his original three-year contract.
There is no clear-cut replacement for Manto in the White Sox organization and Hahn has no specific timetable for when a replacement will be named. Tim Laker is the minor league hitting instructor and Brandon Moore is the hitting coach at Triple-A Charlotte. Former White Sox hitting coach Gary Ward works in the same role at Double-A Birmingham.
Former White Sox slugger Jim Thome returned to the White Sox in an advisory role this season, but it is uncertain if he would be interested in coaching so soon after his playing days have ended. Frank Thomas, the franchise leader in a number of offensive categories, is a studio analyst on White Sox broadcasts. Neither Thome nor Thomas has coaching experience.