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Torey Lovullo and Mike Hazen Reactions to Hitting Coach Changes

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They gave very direct answers to media questions. Kudos.

Arizona Diamondbacks Press Conference Photo by Sarah Sachs/Arizona Diamondbacks/Getty Images

As was reported earlier today and covered by James, the Diamondbacks parted ways with hitting coach Darnell Coles and assistant coach Eric Hinske and promoted Triple-A Reno hitting coach Rick Short and Run Production Coordinator Drew Hedman as co-hitting coaches.

In a wide ranging ZOOM session both the manager and GM were direct and accountable in answering questions. You can listen to the full audio linked below. Here is a summary:

The decision to fire Darnell Coles and Eric Hinske was Torey’s decision, and supported by Hazen. But it was Torey’s call. While insisting he’s not pinning this on just one group of coaches, (Coles and Hinske may disagree) the last 40 days of slumping and inconsistency trend needed to be addressed. One of the reasons he did not act sooner was he wanted to get some of the injured players back on the roster. But things have not improved since that happened. That was the tipping point for Torey.

Was this a Process issue or do the players just need a new voice, especially the slumping veterans ? The decision was more based on results rather than process. The work effort was not the issue. It was mostly the results. He waited a long time for things to change and unfortunately they didn’t. While some of these problems and trends dated back to last year he felt like it was unfair to judge any staff member based on the 2020 season.

Torey acknowledged that some of the veteran hitters are not performing and needed a new voice. We’ve got to get our best players performing at the high level that we expect and that they’ve shown us in the past. That was an area of my concern, for sure. And that’s why we chose Drew and chose Shorty. Shorty is going to be a new voice and a new perspective and very fresh, yet inside of the system and somebody that has a track record with several of these players through their interactions in spring training or some of the interactions through the system. Drew, obviously because of the continuity he was 3rd in line and we have a game tomorrow so we needed some sort of continuity.

I asked Torey if there was anything lacking in the game plans the hitters were getting and what might change: He said he reviewed and signed off on the game plans, and accepts responsibility for all of this. But he felt the game plans were fine, just the execution was not.

Why address hitting and not pitching coaches ? It’s a very fair question . I just want to say that everything is going to be evaluated for the remainder of the season. It was something that I felt the offensive trend needed to be addressed , it’s just the direction I decided to go.

On his own situation and tenuous position he is in: I signed a contract and I’m going to honor that contract every single day. My success isn’t measured by the length of my contract... It’s measured by what I do every single day and what I give this organization on a daily basis... I’ll be judged by my boss and he’ll take it from there

NOTE: This is the first time Torey had an extended contract, previously in his career he’s always been year to year

Mike Hazen’s oversight of Torey’s decision making process: “I told Torey this is his decision to make. Certainly we have conversations amongst the groups of us about the way things are unfolding. Ultimately I think it’s his call to do the best he can to maximize the performance on the field. If change is needed, unfortunately , everyone hates that it comes to that point... But it didn’t happen in this case.”

Hazen went on to speak of overall accountability: This doesn’t just lay down on the coaches. This lays down on me. This lays down on “us” . We’re not blind to that. It lays down on the performance of our players.

He spoke further about focus and execution, but made clear as did Torey seeing all or most of the position players coming back and still not generating offense was the tipping point.

Hazen was asked if he considered making changes “above where they did today”, (i.e. Torey) Those are fair questions for us. We’ve had the most losses in baseball here. We should be prepared to field those questions all the time... I still feel like within the game, the game is being managed, the effort is being put in that needs to be in order to play the brand of baseball that we want to play... I still feel like Torey is the right person to lead these guys and right this ship and get us back to where we need to go.

He differentiated the judgement on hitters vs. pitchers and why similar decisions were not made on the pitching coaches end: There is A distinction in my mind, four of our starting pitchers are out right now. To the degree that we are putting guys in situations is of some consideration for looking at the performance. On the flip side (hitting side) I don’t think that those situations were necessarily analogous .

Expectations and his own role in creating the roster: Ultimately he and I are going to be judged in the exact same way, in the wins and losses. And they’re not in the position they need to be in right now. No matter what you thought of our season starting off, or where you had us pegged, nobody had us pegged at this. Thats the part we are all grinding through right now.

Any second thoughts about running this group back out in it’s entirety: I am responsible for making that decision. That decision is certainly up for scrutiny......There were choices to be made and I made that choice and I own that to it’s entirety. I...I...(laughs) think to the degree where we’re at today which is leaving us all a little bit speechless to a degree, I don’t regret the talent that’s on our roster.

He went on to cite the injuries and state he feels this team is still a competitive team on a night to night basis and did not feel it was appropriate last January to sell off the veteran players on the team. He gave a long answer that’s worth listening restating his philosophy on trying to compete. He also summarized it best:

“I put the risk on the table here for everybody and I have to own that risk.”

Does this coaching change push back the trade deadline urgency for them ? Nothing is imminent....just merely due to the calendar. Regardless of what our intent is, you can have the intent to want to do something, but if other teams are just wait and see, for the next 40 or 50 days, there’s only so much you’re gonna do, and we’re not chasing things around necessarily. If opportunities present themselves to better this team or better the organization, we will do that. I would like to see this team play better baseball. We believe this team has the capability to play better baseball.

Hazen and Lovullo audio [or link]