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Mets to replace hitting coaches Johnson, Natera

Barwis in as new strength and conditioning coach

Disgruntled enough with the state of their offense to change hitting coaches in May, the Mets are once again undergoing a coaching shakeup. The team announced Thursday that it does not plan to invite replacement hitting coach Lamar Johnson or assistant Luis Natera back for 2015, though it will offer both men positions within the Minor League system.

"We appreciate the hard work of Lamar and Luis this year at the Major League level," general manager Sandy Alderson said in a statement. "We hope they will continue to be part of the Mets organization in the future."

Pitching coach Dan Warthen, bench coach Bob Geren, third-base coach Tim Teufel, first-base coach Tom Goodwin and bullpen coach Ricky Bones will all return to their roles in '15. The Mets also announced that they have appointed Mike Barwis to oversee all Major and Minor League strength and conditioning for their organization, parting ways with former strength coach Jim Malone.

Johnson 64, took over as hitting coach on May 26, after the Mets dismissed his predecessor, Dave Hudgens. But the Mets did not improve by any great statistical measure under Johnson's watch, producing a slash line of .238/.308/.370 with him versus .237/.309/.352 with Hudgens. Prior to becoming hitting coach, Johnson spent a decade as the organization's roving hitting instructor and Minor League hitting coordinator.

The Mets named Natera to their newly created position of assistant hitting coach in March, hoping to provide continued instruction for players in the batting cage during games. The Mets also hoped the Spanish-speaking Natera would resonate with their Latin players.

Neither move turned out the way the Mets envisioned; the team finished 22nd in the Majors in runs scored, 22nd in on-base percentage and 27th in slugging.

To replace their two hitting coaches, the Mets will look both inside and outside the organization. The immediate fallout is that there will not be room for popular Triple-A Las Vegas manager Wally Backman on the big league staff.

Barwis, 41, has worked as a conditioning consultant for the Mets since 2011, most recently running a team-sponsored fitness camp for Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, Wilmer Flores and several other Mets last winter. Best known for his reality television show, "American Muscle," Barwis will now directly oversee the hiring and supervision of all Mets strength and conditioning coaches, and will implement his own system-wide performance training program.

Malone, who has been the team's strength and conditioning coach since '13, will no longer be part of the organization.

"Jim Malone did an excellent job for us over the last two seasons, and we wish him well," Alderson said in a statement. "Mike Barwis and his organization offer the Mets an inclusive in-season and off-season approach to performance training, which we think will accelerate the development of our players at all levels."

• As expected, reliever Jenrry Mejia underwent sports hernia surgery Thursday in Philadelphia. The Mets announced that the operation was a success, and that they expect Mejia to be back to full strength well in advance of Spring Training.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo.
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