Mattingly’s Not Hitting Coach!?

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DODGERS NAME EASLER HITTING COACH

Former NL All-Star to replace Mattingly on Joe Torre’s staff

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers today named former National League All-Star Mike Easler as the hitting coach for the 2008 season. Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti made the announcement. Easler will replace Don Mattingly on Joe Torre’s staff, as Mattingly will shift to the role of Major League Special Assignment Coach for the 2008 season due to family reasons.

Mike has enjoyed success as both a player and a coach in the Major Leagues and he’s extremely familiar with our players,” said Colletti. “This is an opportunity to promote a very talented individual from within the organization and we expect him to make a seamless transition to the Major League staff.”

Easler, 57, was the St. Louis Cardinals’ hitting coach from 1999-2001 and served in the same capacity for the Brewers (1992) and Red Sox (1993-94). He spent the last two seasons as a hitting coach in the Dodgers’ minor league system, first with Double-A Jacksonville in 2006 before being promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas prior to last season. In that role, he worked extensively with Matt Kemp, James Loney, Andy LaRoche, Tony Abreu, Delwyn Young and Chin-lung Hu, among other Dodger prospects.

The Cardinals reached the postseason in two of his three years as a hitting coach, ranking third in the NL with a .270 batting average and fifth in the league with a .339 on-base percentage and .441 slugging percentage in 2001, his last year as a big league coach.

During his 14-year Major League career, Easler played primarily in the outfield and posted a .293 average with 118 homers and 522 RBI with the Astros, Angels, Pirates, Red Sox, Yankees, and Phillies. His best season came in 1984 when he finished sixth in the league with a .313 average while slugging 27 homers and 91 RBI in 156 games for Boston. He was named to the National League All-Star team with Pittsburgh in 1981.

The Cleveland, OH native was a member of the 1979 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates and served as a minor league manager and college baseball coach following his big league playing career.

Mattingly will remain employed by the Dodgers full-time in the role as a Major League Special Assignment Coach in 2008 and will assist with the Major League coaching staff during Spring Training as well as other duties throughout the season.

I’m very grateful that the Dodgers have allowed me to take care of these family matters and I hope that everyone can respect our privacy during this time,” said Mattingly. “I truly appreciate the support of all Dodger fans since joining the organization and I look forward to helping the team win in 2008 and beyond.”

Say what? Didn’t see that coming. No idea what the “family reasons” are (hopefully nothing serious of course, unless he wants to personally teach Preston how to hit), but I’d say after all the ballyhoo this offseason about Mattingly being the hitting coach and heir to Torre, this is a pretty big surprise.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

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