Don Mattingly didn’t even make it to opening day before he was replaced as Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach. Dodgers GM Ned Colletti announced today that Mike Easler will take over for Mattingly as the hitting coach this season.
Easler, a long time Dodgers minor league hitting coach, played 14 seasons in the big leagues with Houston, California (Anaheim), Pittsburgh, Boston, and the New York Yankees from 1973 until 1987. Nicknamed the “Hit Man”, Easler was a lifetime .293 hitter, with 118 home runs while playing outfield, first base, and designated hitter. Easler’s best season came in 1980 with Pittsburgh, when he hit .338 with 21 home runs and 78 runs batted in. Last year, Easler was the hitting coach for Dodgers triple-a affiliate Las Vegas.
Mattingly will stay with the team as a special assignment coach. The decision was Mattingly’s, who credited family reasons for the change of position within the organization. Mattingly did say he plans on returning to the role of hitting coach in 2009.