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Firing hitting coach Mickey Hatcher is a big step for Angels’ organization

The Angels announced a major move on Tuesday when they fired hitting coach Mickey Hatcher and replaced him with Triple-A hitting coach Jim Eppard. The switch means much more than a potential for the team’s hitting to improve; it indicates a major change within the organization.

Hatcher was one of Mike Scioscia’s original assistant coaches from the time he took over as Angels manager in 2000. He is the first Scioscia assistant to be fired (previous assistant coaches Joe Maddon and Bud Black moved on to managerial gigs). The two were teammates with the Dodgers and Scioscia has been incredibly loyal to Hatcher, riding with him through the team’s ups-and-downs. But the organization finally decided to fire him on Tuesday.

Many people believe Hatcher was fired in part because he upset Albert Pujols a few weeks ago. They feel the firing was a response to that issue, and that the move indicates Pujols is running the team.

I think it signifies that there is another powerful voice in the organization, but it’s not Pujols’; GM Jerry DiPoto is now the one running the show.

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Albert Pujols is upset with hitting coach Mickey Hatcher for telling the media what he said in a meeting

At some point this season, Albert Pujols is going to turn it on. He has to. Through 23 games this season, Pujols has yet to hit his first home run as a member of the Angels and has only four RBIs. He is hitting .217 with an on-base percentage of .265. Albert is one of the reasons Los Angeles is off to an 8-15 start, and he will probably be one of the reasons they go on a tear at some point later in the season.

Pujols knows he isn’t coming close to living up to the $240 million contract he signed this past offseason, and he acknowledged that during a recent meeting with his teammates. According to Eye on Baseball, hitting coach Mickey Hatcher says Pujols stood up during a pregame meeting on Monday and assured the team that his slump will not continue. While it sound admirable, Albert is unhappy with Hatcher for telling all of us that he did that.

“Mickey should have never told you guys that,” Pujols said. “That stuff needs to be private. He should have never told the media. What we talked about at the meeting, not disrespecting Mickey, but that stuff should stay behind closed doors.”

Pujols is right in the sense that private meetings should be kept private, but Hatcher certainly wasn’t trying to make him look bad. In fact, he was doing the exact opposite. The media has been all over Pujols for his slow start — as they should be with the amount of money he’s being paid. Hatcher was trying to show the public how determined he is. Pujols’ reaction to Hatcher telling the media about it probably speaks more to his frustration level at the moment than anything.

Photo credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE