Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Hitting coach 'wanted some security'
By Richard Durrett
DALLAS -- Longtime hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo rejected a one-year contract offer and will not return to the Texas Rangers next season, it was announced Wednesday.
Jaramillo's contract will expire on Oct. 31, and he will become a free agent at that time. Jaramillo, 59, had been the Rangers' hitting coach since 1995.
"It goes without saying that Rudy has given 15 outstanding years of service," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday. "He will definitely be missed. We wish him the best wherever it is that he ends up landing."
Jaramillo, who had interviewed for the New York Mets' managerial position after the 2004 season, leaves with an impressive résumé. Before 2009, his offenses were consistently at or near the top of the American League. Under his watchful eye, the Rangers had four MVPs (Juan Gonzalez , Pudge Rodriguez and Alex Rodriguez), a batting title (Michael Young), 17 Silver Slugger awards, three home run titles and three RBI titles.
"The Rangers did what they felt they had to do in offering me a one-year deal," Jaramillo said. "That's understandable with the sale of the club and the situation the club is in. I just felt that I wanted some security, and the way to get security is to go out and find out where you stand on the market.
"I don't think this opportunity comes around all the time and I don't want to end my career and say, 'Man, I should have done it.' I want to thank the Rangers. It was just a decision I made."
Rangers president Nolan Ryan said the club met with Jaramillo after the season about how to improve the offense, which scored only 784 runs -- the fewest since Jaramillo was hired. The team hit .260, the lowest average since moving into Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in 1994, and the .320 on-base percentage ranked 12th in the AL.
"You had a lot of young kids that were inexperienced," Jaramillo said. "It was all mental. You saw mechanical issues, but the problem was trusting themselves at the big league level. They put pressure on themselves and they wanted to excel and the harder they tried, the tougher it got."
Said Ryan: "We were all disappointed in the number of strikeouts and the lack of walks. We felt like for us to move forward, that was an area we had to stress with the hitters, like maybe have a different approach on two strikes. [Rudy] was in agreement with that."
Daniels, who said he was a little surprised that Jaramillo rejected the offer, said the club hasn't put together a list of candidates to fill the position. Jaramillo's last two contracts were multiyear deals, but Daniels said that Jaramillo specifically mentioned that the one-year offer was not a factor in his decision to leave the club.
Manager Ron Washington mentioned situational hitting as a big concern. The Rangers were 20th in the majors in runs scored and RBIs with runners in scoring position.
"I think we were very inconsistent at [situational hitting], and the players have to take the acceptance of that not being done," Washington said. "That's something we have to harp on in spring training -- play to the situation in the ballgame."
Jaramillo believes the Rangers' young hitters will figure it out and improve next season.
"They'll get there," Jaramillo said. "They are good hitters, you just have to be patient. Injuries hurt us too. Hambone [Josh Hamilton] is such a big part of this offense. If he was healthy and even close to last year, the whole season is different. Ian [Kinsler] was hurt for a while and [Michael] Young, too. That hurt."
Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.