Padres hire Stairs as hitting coach

October 27th, 2017
The Phillies showed improvement under Matt Stairs in his lone season as their hitting coach. (Getty)

SAN DIEGO -- Matt Stairs has rejoined his former team as its new hitting coach, the Padres announced Monday. Stairs spent one season serving in the same role in Philadelphia.

"Matt possesses a true understanding of and passion for hitting," said executive vice president and general manager A.J. Preller. "Throughout his playing career, he was a student of the game. In this process, we looked for teachers who could make an immediate impact with our players, and Matt brings invaluable knowledge and experience both as a coach and as a 19-year Major League veteran."

The Padres recently made other tweaks to the rest of their coaching staff, moving Johnny Washington from first-base coach to assistant hitting coach, the role filled by Jonathan Mathews last year. Mathews will be reassigned as a coach within the Minor League system. The Padres have promoted to the role of first-base coach, according to a team source.

Stairs, who spent 19 seasons in the Majors as an outfielder, played for San Diego in 2010.

He takes over for Alan Zinter, who was relieved of his duties on Sept. 1 after two seasons with the club -- a stretch in which the Padres ranked last in baseball in runs, average and on-base percentage.

The last one is something of a sticking point with the Padres. Manager Andy Green and Preller have spoken repeatedly about the need to work more walks and reach base more frequently. Since the duo arrived, OBP has been strongly re-emphasized at the Minor League level, but it has yet to pay dividends with the big league club.

As for Stairs, he helped a similarly young Phillies squad make strides in 2017 -- including a 10-point jump in average and a 14-point jump in on-base percentage. In Philadelphia, he was especially well-regarded for his work with youngsters like , and .

"We're thrilled to have Matt join our coaching staff," said Green. "He did a tremendous job with the Phillies' young players last season and brings a wealth of hitting knowledge to our ballclub."

Stairs is presented with a new challenge in San Diego, where , and all played their first full season in 2017. All three have room to grow at the plate -- specifically in regards to their on-base percentage. Plus, Stairs will be tasked with helping put a shaky '17 season in the rearview mirror.