Hitting coach Henderson out, rest of staff to return
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.