Hawkins, Colborn join coaching staff

Hawkins, Colborn join coaching staff

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers celebrated their 9-8 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night in an unusual manner.

They dismissed pitching coach Mark Connor and bullpen coach Dom Chiti after the game. Triple-A Oklahoma pitching coach Andy Hawkins was named to replace Connor while Jim Colborn, the Rangers' Far East scout who has seven years of experience as a Major League pitching coach, will take over for Chiti.

"This is not about a scapegoat with either guy," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "These are two excellent baseball coaches and class men. We just felt it was time to make a change. Andy Hawkins has been in our organization a long time and knows our young pitchers. That's the direction we're heading. Jim Colborn has experience as a Major League pitcher and a pitching coach that will be invaluable to our young pitchers."

Daniels said both men will handle their jobs until the end of the season and then be re-evaluated.

"They'll be given every opportunity to succeed," Daniels said.

Connor and Chiti were told after the game in a meeting with Daniels and manager Ron Washington. They were let go as the Rangers sit last in the Major Leagues with a 5.27 team ERA.

"The bottom line is the results weren't there," said Daniels, who added it was a joint decision between him and Washington.

Daniels gave Washington the opportunity to change any of his coaches at the end of last season. Washington, as far as the pitching department, decided against it after expressing a high regard for Connor and Chiti's pitching knowledge, passion and work ethic.

"I have so much respect for Mark and Dom," Washington said. "This is the toughest thing I've ever been a part of but sometimes you have to go in a different direction."

This is has been a tough season for the Rangers pitching staff as they have battled through numerous injuries. The Rangers have used 13 starters this year and eight have spent time on the disabled list because of various injuries.

Their starting rotation currently has three rookies along with Vicente Padilla and Scott Feldman, who was a reliever until Connor decided to switch him to the rotation at the end of Spring Training.

Kason Gabbard and Jason Jennings -- both in the Opening Day rotation -- have both undergone season-ending surgery. Brandon McCarthy, who was supposed to be in the rotation, has been sidelined since Spring Training with elbow inflammation. Reliever Joaquin Benoit, who was the Rangers' Pitcher of the Year in 2007, is also on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation.

The Rangers have had to use 10 rookie pitchers this season. Tommy Hunter made his Major League debut on Friday night and allowed six runs in five innings. He is the seventh rookie starter the Rangers have used, the most in one season in club history.

"We just felt we needed to try a different direction, a different voice, a different message," Daniels said. "Sometimes guys respond to different messages."

Connor was in his sixth season on the Rangers coaching staff. He was hired by Buck Showalter as his bullpen coach before the 2003 season and then took over as the pitching coach for the 2006 season. He remained in that position after Washington replaced Showalter. Chiti took over as bullpen coach in 2006 after serving in a variety of roles in the front office.

Hawkins has spent seven of the last eight seasons in the Rangers organization, including the past 2 1/2 seasons at Oklahoma. He was a Class A pitching coach in the Rangers organization from 2001-04, then spent one season in the Royals organization before returning to the Rangers.

A native of Waco, Texas, he spent 10 seasons in the Major Leagues and pitched for the Padres in the 1984 World Series. He had a career record of 84-91 with a 4.22 ERA.

Colborn was hired by the Rangers as their director of Pacific Rim scouting after two years as the Pirates pitching coach and five years as the Dodgers pitching coach. He also had four years of experience as a pitching coach for the Orix Blue Wave in the Japanese Pacific League in 1990-93. He spent 11 years in the big leagues and was a 20-game winner for the Brewers in 1973.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.