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Hitting coach Stairs departs for Padres

In one season as hitting coach, Matt Stairs oversaw across-the-board improvements by the Phillies, but he's exiting amidst the coaching staff shakeup. (Tony Firriolo/Getty Images)
October 27, 2017

PHILADELPHIA -- Matt Stairs chose not to wait for an opportunity that might never come.Stairs, 49, who just finished his first season as the Phillies' hitting coach, was hired for the same position by the Padres on Monday. With Pete Mackanin not returning, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak told his

PHILADELPHIA -- Matt Stairs chose not to wait for an opportunity that might never come.
Stairs, 49, who just finished his first season as the Phillies' hitting coach, was hired for the same position by the Padres on Monday. With Pete Mackanin not returning, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak told his coaching staff last week the new manager will hire his own staff.
Stairs' hiring in San Diego came on the same day the Phillies announced Gabe Kapler as their new manager. Klentak told Mackanin's coaches last week that they could try to return with the new manager, which was not a guarantee, or look elsewhere for employment.
"It's weird," Stairs said late last month about his uncertain future. "You come in as the new hitting coach and I think with the numbers and success we've had, you name it, everything across the board is up. You're hoping the next guy that comes in here says, 'I want Stairsy here because he knows the hitters.' If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it [stinks]. But I understand."
The Phillies' offense had a higher batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage than last season. They hit more doubles, triples and home runs. They walked more. They saw more pitches. They scored more runs.
Hitters touted Stairs' communication skills and his ability to keep things simple.
Stairs notably played a role in the successes of Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro. He lowered Altherr's hands and minimized his leg kick in Spring Training. Altherr posted an .856 OPS. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, it would be the highest OPS by a Phillies hitter since 2010.
Williams said in the spring that he can't believe he ever hit the baseball before he met Stairs, who softened his stride. Williams finished with an .811 OPS, showing power and a knack for knocking in runs.
Alfaro used a more relaxed stance since the Phillies promoted him in August, which included lowering his hands. The rookie hit .318 with an .874 OPS.
It is unclear if other coaches will try and return. Former bench coach Larry Bowa already has accepted a job in the Phillies' front office as an advisor to Klentak. Third-base coach Juan Samuel interviewed for the managerial vacancy, but was not a finalist. Other coaches on Mackanin's staff include pitching coach Bob McClure, first-base coach Mickey Morandini, bullpen coach John McLaren and assistant pitching coach Rick Kranitz.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.