Thursday, June 14, 2007
Dodgers name Mueller interim hitting coach
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers fired Hall of Famer Eddie Murray as hitting coach Thursday after completing a three-game sweep of the NL East-leading New York Mets in which they got 31 hits and scored 18 runs.
The Dodgers are hitting just .261 and averaging 4.4. runs per game in Murray's second season as hitting coach.
Bill Mueller, hired as special assistant to general manager Ned Colletti during the offseason, will serve as interim hitting coach.
Colletti said the move had been considered for some time.
"We don't do anything here quick or without a lot of thought and a lot of compassion," he said during a telephone conference call. "We feel like there's a lot of the season left and the offense can be a lot better than it is. We decided to do it now."
Manager Grady Little said Murray was told of the decision following a 9-1 victory over the Mets on Wednesday night.
"I think his reaction was the normal reaction you would expect after hearing what we just told him," Little said. "The expectation for this offense was a lot greater. Hopefully a change will get it going. We felt like it was time to make a change.
"Eddie did a great job. Eddie's a great hitting coach, Eddie had a great career. Right now, we need more results," he said.
The Dodgers led the NL with a .276 batting average and a .348 on-base percentage last year -- Murray's first as their hitting coach -- and reached the playoffs as the NL wild-card team. They're 38-28 and a half-game behind the NL West-leading San Diego Padres despite hitting just .261 and averaging 4.4 runs per game.
The 51-year-old Murray is one of only three players in big-league history to get 3,000 hits and hit 500 homers. A switch-hitter who spent most of his career with the Baltimore Orioles, he played for the Dodgers from 1989-91 and again in 1997 before retiring with 3,255 hits and 504 homers.
The 36-year-old Mueller retired at the end of last season with a lifetime batting average of .291 in 11 seasons with the Giants, Cubs, Red Sox and Dodgers. He hit .326 for the Red Sox to win the AL batting championship in 2003 and was a member of Boston's world championship team the following year.
Mueller said Colletti and Little approached him Wednesday night about becoming the hitting coach.
"It's an interim spot. As the days go on, we'll see how it is, see how the process is," Colletti said. "We're trying to find the right person, the perfect fit for this. It might be Billy Mueller, it might not be Billy Mueller. In three weeks or so, he might say this is not his cup of tea.
"I can't think of anybody better who knows the organization, who knows the hitters, who knows hitting. We'll take it day by day and see where it leads," he said.
Mueller said it was far too soon to make a permanent decision but added: "I'm very excited about it."
"It's very difficult to think long-term -- it happened so fast," he said. "I'm not sure, because there are many factors in my own personal life that will determine whether I want to do this long-term."
Mueller said the first thing he wants to do is build a rapport with each player individually.
"I feel like once that starts to happen, everything improves," he said. "First will be the relationship with each guy, to build from there, to see where each guy is mentally as well as physically."