Slumping Toronto wants more out of offense

Updated: April 25, 2005, 6:24 PM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- The slumping Toronto Blue Jays fired hitting coach Mike Barnett on Monday and replaced him with first base coach Mickey Brantley.

The Blue Jays are 9-11 after losing seven of eight. They were swept last weekend in Baltimore and outscored 24-7.

Toronto is batting .270, seventh in the AL. The Blue Jays' 95 runs ranked sixth in the league.

The Blue Jays scored only 719 runs last year, next to last in the AL. They hit .260, which ranked 12th.

"This isn't a knee-jerk reaction, it's something we've been watching closely for the last year. We're starting to get into the same habits we were in last year," general manager J.P. Ricciardi said during a conference call.

"Before this thing steamrolled on us, we thought now was the right time to make a move," he said. "We were starting to get into the same patterns. We weren't scoring runs, we left a lot of guys on base, our situational hitting is not good."

Barnett, 46, had been the Blue Jays' hitting coach since joining the organization in January 2002. He was given a one-year contract extension last Oct. 4.

Brantley, 43, is in his first season with the Blue Jays. He had been a hitting coach with the New York Mets and was previously a coach in the San Francisco organization.

Brantley played for Seattle from 1986-89, hitting .259 with 32 home runs and 125 RBI in 302 games.

Manager John Gibbons brought Toronto in the offseason. Ernie Whitt will leave his bench coach role to replace Brantley.

"I go way back with Mickey, he brings a lot of passion, he's got a presence about him," Gibbons said. "We were not getting the most out of guys we have. Too many guys are not doing what we expect."

Gibbons will go without a bench coach for now.

"We'll see how that plays out," he said. "Whitt's been so valuable on the bench for us. If it's not working out, we'll address that."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press