Hit­ting coach Hen­der­son out, rest of staff to re­turn

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Jack McCaf­fery jm­c­caf­fery@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Jack­McCaf­fery on Twit­ter

PHILADEL­PHIA >> The first for­mal in­di­ca­tion of Matt Klen­tak’s off­sea­son dis­po­si­tion was re­vealed Mon­day: He will be pa­tient … to a point.

Con­firm­ing what sources re­vealed Sun­day, the Phillies have of­fi­cially re­leased Steve Hen­der­son, who had been their hit­ting coach since 2013.

How­ever, de­spite fin­ish­ing 20 games be­low .500, the rest of the staff will be re­tained, in­clud­ing Larry Bowa (bench), Rick Kranitz (bullpen), Bob McClure (pitch­ing), John McLaren (catch­ing), Mickey Mo­ran­dini (first base) and Juan Sa­muel (third base).

Man­ager Pete Mack­anin is un­der con­tract through the 2017 sea­son. The Phillies hold a club op­tion to ex­tend that agree­ment through 2018.

Hen­der­son, 65, played for the Mets, Cubs, Mariners, A’s and Astros and was a .280 ma­jor-league hit­ter in 16 ma­jor-league sea­sons. But the Phillies hit .240 this sea­son, the sec­ond-worst av­er­age in base­ball. Their 1,376 strike­outs were the third most in the Na­tional League.

Mack­anin sup­ported Hen­der­son through­out the strug­gle, of­ten men­tion­ing how he was teach­ing the proper things around the bat­ting cage. The mes­sage was not get­ting through, how­ever, and the man­ager also rou­tinely lamented a poor team-wide ap­proach at the plate, par­tic­u­larly with two strikes.

“I think our group as a whole has done a re­ally nice job this year,” Klen­tak said in a re­cent in­ter­view. “We talked a lot in spring train­ing about the en­ergy level, stay­ing pos­i­tive, par­tic­u­larly with a young group. And we’ve had one of the youngest ros­ters all year long. The ef­fort level of this team and this staff has been very good. I won’t say we’re go­ing to com­mit to any­thing at this stage for next year, but at the end of the year Pete and I will sit down and talk about it.

“Gen­er­ally speak­ing, I’m pleased.”

When asked if he alone would make those de­ci­sions, the gen­eral man­ager replied, “Pete and I will talk about it to­gether.”

The de­ci­sion to part ways with Hen­der­son was made Sun­day and con­firmed by sources. Though coach­ing-staff changes im­me­di­ately af­ter Game No. 162 are com­mon in base­ball, it’s likely the Phillies chose to wait a day rather than to al­low any an­nounce­ment to clut­ter their taste­ful trib­ute to Ryan Howard, who has played his last Phillies game.

Though Klen­tak ap­pre­ci­ated Hen­der­son’s ef­fort, the re­sults were too dras­tic to ig­nore.

“That’s a chal­lenge in any or­ga­ni­za­tion, sep­a­rat­ing process from re­sults,” the gen­eral man­ager said. “The ef­fort level has been there, not only from Steve, but from the whole staff. They can only play the play­ers that are on the ros­ter. Some play­ers are go­ing to nat­u­rally be bet­ter at cer­tain things than oth­ers. It’s just the re­al­ity of busi­ness and the way things work. I agree with what Pete has said. It’s cer­tainly not for a lack of ef­fort.”

Klen­tak re­mains sup­port­ive of Mack­anin.

“Our re­la­tion­ship has re­ally grown as the year has gone on, not sur­pris­ingly,” he said. “Our com­mu­ni­ca­tion has been very open. I think he’s done a pretty good job. It’s not easy to keep a team that’s likely out of con­tention play­ing hard un­til the very end, but this team con­tin­ues to fight ev­ery day. That’s a very good sign as an or­ga­ni­za­tion.”


The Phillies’ Freddy Galvis (13) is met by third base coach Juan Sa­muel, left, af­ter hit­ting a two-run home run against the Mar­lins in Septem­ber. Sa­muel and nearly all of the Phillies coach­ing staff will re­turn in 2017, save for hit­ting in­struc­tor Steve Hen­der­son.

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