NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mets general manager Sandy Alderson had to hear the booing at Citi Field throughout a miserable homestand.
He took steps to begin fixing the problems Monday after a 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, firing hitting coach Dave Hudgens and cutting reliever Jose Valverde.
“This is a very difficult decision to make. I’ve known Dave for many years, decades,” Alderson said. “Our situational hitting is not where we want it to be.”
Minor league hitting coordinator Lamar Johnson will take over for Hudgens. The 63-year-old Johnson has been in this role with the Mets for 10 of his 11 years in the organization and is responsible for helping teach the organization’s hitting philosophy throughout the minors.
The Mets have tried to implement a plan of patience at the plate but the results have not shown.
“Our hitting approach will not change appreciably,” Alderson said. “Any time there’s a new person, there’s a new voice, a new take, a different interpretation both from a mechanical and an approach point of view.”
Hudgens said players have been “trying too hard” at Citi Field — and not just because of the ballpark’s pitcher-friendly dimensions.
“I think the fans are really tough on the guys at home,” Hudgens told Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. “How can you boo Curtis Granderson? They have no idea how hard this guy works and how he goes about doing his business, doing his job. He gets off to a slow start and they’re booing him? Come on. It’s tougher at home to play than it is on the road, there’s no doubt about it.”
Hudgens also took aim at the Mets’ television broadcast team of Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling during an interview with Newsday’s Marc Carig.
“The naysayers, the guys who disapprove of us, the guys who I listen to on TV all the time, those guys that know everything about the game, I’m just amazed at it,” he told Carig. “What’s wrong with getting a good pitch to hit? Somebody, please punch a hole in that for me. I just shake my head at the old-school guys that have it all figured out. Go up there and swing the bat. Well, what do you want to swing at? It just confounds me. It’s just hilarious, really.
“That’s one thing. I’m glad I don’t have to listen to those guys anymore.”
The 57-year-old Hudgens was in his fourth season as the Mets’ hitting coach. The Mets began the day with a .237 batting average, ranking among the worst in the majors. They have scored just 32 runs in losing nine of 12.
“This is by no means Dave Hudgens’ fault. Not whatsoever,” manager Terry Collins said. “It’s about trying to get the execution better. We’ll see if change helps.”
The problems are more glaring with runners in scoring position: New York is 13 for 66 (.197) in that situation in the first seven games of a nine-game homestand after getting one hit in eight tries Monday.
The Mets hit into five double plays Sunday in a 2-1 loss to Arizona in the first-game of a doubleheader. Daniel Murphy hit into one of the team’s two double plays Monday, wiping out another hit by Jacob deGrom.
“There’s frustration at the way we’re playing. There’s frustration with the way the offense is going and that Dave unfortunately bears the brunt of that,” Murphy said. “It stinks.”
David Wright was unhappy that the popular coach lost his job over what he thinks is the players’ fault.
“When you struggle the way we’ve struggled offensively, a finger, obviously, gets pointed. A lot of times that finger gets pointed unfairly,” Wright said.
Alderson said this was not to read as a warning to Collins.
“I think this is in response to a specific situation,” Alderson said. “Nothing else should be read into it by any means.”
Collins said coaches and managers know what they’re signing up for.
“When you’re evaluated, you know where it starts? In the mirror,” he said. “You know what kind of job you do and you know how you go about your job, and at the end of the day, you know what? If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.”
The Mets have been revamping their bullpen, and Valverde’s dismissal after allowing four runs while getting only two outs in the eighth and ninth innings is the next step.
With new closer Jenrry Mejia unavailable after pitching both games of the doubleheader Sunday, Collins turned to Valverde.
Valverde (1-1) was booed off the field after allowing pinch-hitter Jose Tabata’s tying single in the eighth. He returned for the ninth and was even worse, yielding four runs overall.
“Don’t think for one second that there’s not a guy in there that realizes that this is part of it. We just released one of the best professionals I ever been around in Jose Valverde,” a fired-up Collins said. “S— happens. You deal with it, and if you can’t you don’t belong in the game.”
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