Now hitting with two men on ... them
The workload for a big-league hitting coach keeps getting heavier.
A typical day at the ballpark includes studying video, scouting opposing pitchers, working with batters in the cage and counseling those hitters trying to emerge from a slump. Thus, a growing number of teams are employing two hitting coaches. As are the Rockies now.
The Rockies filled out their coaching staff Thursday by adding four men from their minor-league ranks, including Duane Espy and Jeff Salazar. Espy will be the Rockies’ primary hitting coach and Salazar will be his assistant. The team also said Tony Diaz will be its first-base coach, and it added Ron Gideon as a coach with a variety of duties, including working with outfielders.
The Rockies scored 845 runs last season, their most since scoring 860 during their 2007 World Series season. Their .275 team batting average led the National League, but their .246 road batting average ranked only 10th. The Rockies believe a more versatile and athletic lineup will lead to more consistency. They also think having a pair of hitting coaches will help improve production.
“I think it’s imperative, in this day and age, to have two hitting coaches,” new manager Bud Black said. “The amount of time that players spend in the cage, spend with video, spend on the analytic side — I think you need two guys. It’s a demanding position.”
The rest of the staff — pitching coach Steve Foster, bullpen coach Darren Holmes and third-base coach Stu Cole, all of whom served under Walt Weiss — were retained when Black became Weiss’ successor.
Here are snapshots of the Rockies’ four new coaches:
• Diaz, 39, was the supervisor of development with the Rockies’ rookie team in Grand Junction from 2013 through 2016 after spending the previous six seasons as the manager at the rookie level (Casper, 200711; Grand Junction, 2012).
• Espy, 64, will serve as Rockies hitting coach for the second time in his career. He was the hitting coach under manager Clint Hurdle from 2003 through 2006. He was the organization’s minor-league hitting coordinator the past two seasons.
• Gideon, 52, spent the past four seasons as a supervisor of development after serving the previous five seasons as a roving field coordinator (2008-12) and as the manager of Double-A Tulsa (2009-10).
• Salazar, 36, has been the hitting coach for Double-A Hartford for the past two seasons. Salazar was originally drafted by the Rockies in the eighth round of the 2002 draft out of Oklahoma State. He debuted with the Rockies on Sept. 7, 2006. Salazar played in 168 games in parts of four bigleague seasons with Colorado (2006), Arizona (2007-08) and Pittsburgh (2009).