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Hitting coach Ward departs Dodgers for Reds

MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers have lost their second coach in a week, as hitting coach Turner Ward was hired for the same role by the Cincinnati Reds.

Ward's departure follows that of third-base coach Chris Woodward, who was introduced on Monday as manager of the Texas Rangers.

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers have lost their second coach in a week, as hitting coach Turner Ward was hired for the same role by the Cincinnati Reds.

Ward's departure follows that of third-base coach Chris Woodward, who was introduced on Monday as manager of the Texas Rangers.

As often happens to World Series clubs, the Dodgers have been raided the past two seasons.

Vice president Alex Anthopoulos and baseball operations director Alex Tamin were hired by Atlanta as general manager and assistant GM; Minor League director Gabe Kapler joined Philadelphia as manager; bullpen coach Josh Bard became the bench coach of the Yankees; assistant hitting coach Tim Hyers joined the Red Sox as hitting coach; Minor League pitching coach Matt Herges became the Giants' bullpen coach; and scout Aaron Sele went to the Marlins.

Ward had been with the Dodgers for three seasons. The 54-year-old is best known as the Yasiel Puig "whisperer" after developing a close relationship with the outfielder and working to get him back on track after a Minor League demotion in 2016. One of Puig's most endearing quirks was to kiss Ward on the cheek when he returned to the dugout after hitting a home run.

In addition, general manager Farhan Zaidi is rumored to be a leading candidate of the San Francisco Giants to become their president of baseball operations.

The Dodgers have not announced their coaching staff for 2019, but last week Zaidi said he expected the entire staff to return.

Ward said he first spoke to the Reds on Saturday night, and the deal -- rumored to be for three years -- came together quickly. A resident of Alabama, Ward said being closer to home was a factor in joining Cincinnati. New manager David Bell and Ward have known each other for a long time but never worked together. They spent all of Sunday speaking on the phone about Bell's vision for the team and Ward's ideas as a hitting coach.

"I know about his knowledge, his reputation throughout the game is off the charts," Bell said. "What came through loud and clear is that he's in this for the right reasons, he's in it to support the players, he's in it to help them. He's in it to do everything he can to be part of a team. He sees this as a great challenge of building something special. All those things, outside his background and knowledge of hitting, those things were just so important for me to hear, just as they were with Derek. That's just another great step in building a really great staff."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers