Rays fire hitting coach Derek Shelton, promote Chad Mottola
UPDATE, 5:58: Essentially Silverman said had been talking about this move for the last couple weeks and made the decision a few days ago, that it wasn't as much as what Shelton did wrong as how the think they can be better with Mottola delivering the message. ... Cash said the primary reason for doing it now was to give Mottola more time to get adjusted and acclimnated to the hitters, and them to him. .... 3B Evan Longoria, the team's veteran leader, said he was surprised by the news and that he felt Shelton had done a "great" job. ... Mottola was hired through at least 2017.
UPDATE, 2:20: Shelton had another year on his contract, signed through 2017, so the Rays are responsible for that.
UPDATE, 1:55: Shelton told the Times he was surprised to get the call this morning, based on the time of year and that the Rays had been hitting better.
"I was surprised that it happened, especially during the season, with a month left,'' Shelton said.
"They wanted a new message. And they made a decision they wanted someone else to be in charge of the offense.''
Since the All-Star break, the Rays have ranked fourth in the AL in runs scored, making the news more unexpected, Shelton said.
"We're actually swinging the bats better, there's some guys showing signs of doing things we though they could do and there are some guys having really good years,'' Shelton said. "So I think the timing of it was surprising.''
Shelton said he felt he had a good relationship with the players, manager Kevin Cash and the front office, and appreciated the opportunuty he did get.
DEVELOPING: The Rays have fired hitting coach Derek Shelton and promoted minor-league coordinator Chad Mottola to the job.
Shelton had been with the Rays for seven seasons.
In a statement, baseball operations president Matt Silverman thanked Shelton for his service.
"He brought great energy to our clubhouse and his work ethic with our hitters was outstanding," Silverman said. "We decided it was time for a new voice.''
Mottola, 44, has been with the Rays for three seasons after seven as a coach in the Toronto organization, including 2013 as the major-league hitting coach.
"Chad has worked with players throughout the organization for several years now, and we are excited for the perspectives and experiences he will bring to this role,'' Silverman said.
Mottola, who will take over duties on Thursday in New York, played for 16 seasons, including parts of five in the majors with the Reds (1996), Blue Jays (2000. '06), Marlins (2001) and Orioles (2004), retiring after the 2007 season.
He was the fifth overall pick in the 1992 draft by the Reds, taken one pick before the Yankees selected Derek Jeter. He attended UCF.
Shelton's 7-year tenure was the longest of any of the first six hitting coaches in team history.