The Rangers are going to give Hurdle the chance to implement his philosophy at the Ballpark in Arlington. On Thursday the Rangers officially named him as their hitting coach to replace Rudy Jaramillo, who held the position for 15 years.
"I felt we needed a presence, and he has that," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I felt we needed experience and I think an immediate impact. Clint can be that. He's prepared and he cares about his guys. He'll make everybody accountable. That's an asset that Clint brings that I love. He always makes people accountable."
Hurdle, who was the Rockies' hitting coach from 1997 until April 26, 2002, was hired over three other finalists: former Rangers outfielder Rusty Greer, former Athletics hitting coach Thad Bosley and veteran Major League hitting coach Gerald Perry.
"Obviously when Rudy Jaramillo left early in the offseason, we felt this was a very important hire," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We wanted to take our time with it and talk to the best baseball people in the game. We arrived at what was ultimately a very easy decision. We felt Clint was a very strong candidate.
As Rockies' Hitting Coach
|Clint Hurdle was the Rockies' hitting coach for the 1997-2001 seasons. Here is how the Rockies ranked during those five years in three categories.
"We feel having gone through this, we made what was clearly the right decision to help Ron Washington and his staff take the next step toward a world championship."
Greer, who has turned down full-time Minor League opportunities in the past, spoke with Daniels after the decision was made and will continue to work with the Rangers informally in Spring Training.
Hurdle had great success with the Rockies at Coors Field, a ballpark that is widely known as the most hitter-friendly in the game. The Rockies led the league in hitting in all five seasons as well as in runs scored and on-base percentage in three of five seasons.
The Ballpark in Arlington is also known as hitter-friendly but not to the extent of Coors Field. Hurdle will also be taking over a team that scored 784 runs in 2009 after leading the Major Leagues with 901 runs scored in 2008.
"This team has a very unique combination of usable speed and power," Hurdle said. "We want to add to that with hitability and consistency of approach, and always emphasize maximizing every at-bat. We don't have to have a bang-with-them approach, we can find a way to scratch out and manufacture runs against the other team's No. 1 and No. 2 starters.
Rangers Hitting Coaches
|Merv Rettenmund ||1983-85|
|Art Howe ||1985-88|
|Tom Robson || 1989-92|
|Willie Uphaw || 1993-94|
|Rudy Jaramillo || 1995-2009|
|Clint Hurdle || 2010-|
"There are ways to make productive outs. That's what separates you from other teams. To be productive, you have to enhance your ability to use all 27 outs."
Hurdle used the word trust and the importance in buying into the team concept.
"Trust yourself and trust the guy behind you," Hurdle said. "Trust that you don't always have to hit a three-run home run. Trust that you won't swing at ball four, five, six and seven. Trust that sometimes the best you can do is go up there and hit the ball hard. Speed and small ball have become more important in the Major Leagues over the past few years."
Hurdle, who spent 10 seasons in the Major Leagues as a player, has a daunting task ahead. He follows one of the best hitting coaches in the game and one who inspired great devotion from hitters. Jaramillo, who has since been hired by the Cubs, was also highly successful. The Rangers' offense struggled more than expected in 2008, but they have a long history of success under Jaramillo.
"Communication is the key," Hurdle said. "I want them to communicate clearly with me ... tell me where they are as a hitter, what they've learned and what they need to improve on. I don't have a 'my way or the highway' approach. I try to make them all a little better hitter through the team concept.
"Hitting can be done many different ways. My challenge is to communicate with each guy and make it simple. Players don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
Hurdle, who received a one-year contract plus an option for 2011, goes to work right away. He is already assembling video of his hitters and looked at different statistics. He is assembling a list of phone numbers. He still lives in Colorado but will visit Arlington often during the winter. The Rangers could piggy-back a hitters' camp along with the pitching camp that will be held in late January.
Hurdle wanted to get back on the field. He was the Rockies' manager from April 26, 2002, until he was dismissed on May 29 of this season. He led the Rockies to the World Series in 2007, but they were swept by the Red Sox. He has been working as an analyst on the MLB Network, and the Rockies' offered him a front-office position.
He accepted this instead.
"I was looking for an opportunity where I could use my skill sets to help a group of men with what I can bring and to help win a world championship," Hurdle said. "I was looking for another challenge. I think I have the skill sets for a club looking for offensive direction. This is the right move at the right time for all the right reasons."