Rays drop hitting coach Steve Henderson; bring back pitching coach Jim Hickey, others
UPDATE, 7:22: More from Friedman on not bringing back Henderson: "It was something we've been talking about for the past couple weeks. I think it's obvious the impact that he has had on our guys in the minor leagues and also the major leagues, and ultimately it was a very difficult decision. Both of us have tremendous respect for him - his tireless work ethic and all the things he does on a daily basis. But ultimately we felt like it was time for a new voice. We felt like this was a much harder decision to make than not, but ultimately felt like this was how we could really advance things going forward. There were some inadequacies offensively this year, but this move isn’t a result of us pointing our fingers at Hendu. In fact, ultimately I'm the one that's accountable and so it's nothing to do with things that have transpired, but just looking forward we felt like this was the right move.''
Henderson took it relatively well: "They wanted to make a change, and that’s cool. I had some good years there … I helped a lot of guys.’’
UPDATE, 5:35: Henderson was let go, exec VP Andrew Friedman, said because "ultimately we felt it was time for a new voice." A replacement won't be named anytime soon. Hickey was retained, manager Joe Maddon said, because he is one of the best in the game and not all that went wrong was his fault. Also, senior advisor Don Zimmer will be back, and discussions are ongoing with assistant to the pitching coach Brian Anderson.
UPDATE, 4:35: Hitting coach Steve Henderson was let go by the Rays but the five other coaches, including pitching coach Jim Hickey, will return.
Also Todd Greene won't return as the position of quality assurance coach was eliminated.
The Rays set teams records for runs, home runs, walks and on-base percentage this season, but their lack of situational hitting - getting runners home from third, making productive outs - was an ongoing problem, and Henderson took the fall.
Henderson, 56, had the job for five seasons, including the last four. He was also on the job for the 1998 inaugural season, then reassigned to the minor leagues. He has been in the Rays organization for 12 seasons, longer than all but three other uniformed personnel - third-base coach Tom Foley, Triple-A manager Charlie Montoyo and minor-league hitting instructor Steve Livesey.
The returning coaches are bench coach Dave Martinez, bullpen coach Bobby Ramos, first-base coach George Hendrick (who had been considering asking for a minor-league assignment), Foley and Hickey.
Greene, 38, was new to the organization this season.
Hickey, 47, has been with the Rays for three seasons. The staff ERA went from 5.53 his first season to 3.82 last season to 4.33 this season
DEVELOPING: Pitching coach Jim Hickey will be back with the Rays.
After meeting with Rays officials Monday at Tropicana Field, Hickey said: “They want to have me back and I want to be back, so that’s probably what’s going to happen. We’re going to talk in the next couple days and work out the details.’’
All the Rays coaches are at the end of their contracts, and are meeting today with executive VP Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon. Bullpen coach Bobby Ramos is also going to return.
There should be more word later today on the status of hitting coach Steve Henderson, bench coach Dave Martinez, third-base coach Tom Foley and first-base coach George Hendrick, who has been considering leaving and taking a minor-league instructors assignment but decided to stay with the big-league team. Quality assurance coach Todd Greene's status is also unclear.
Hickey, 47, has been with the Rays for three seasons. The staff ERA went from 5.53 his first season to 3.82 last season to 4.33 this season.