Magadan brings fresh eye as Rox hitting coach

December 12th, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- Dave Magadan, hired Tuesday night as the Rockies' new hitting coach, brings a long career with notable success. Just as importantly, he represents new blood.
Magadan, 56, who served as the D-backs' hitting coach the last three seasons and has held the job with the Padres, Red Sox and Rangers, will replace Duane Espy, who was not retained after holding the job the last two years. But after the Rockies set 26-season franchise lows by batting .256 overall and .225 on the road, yet made the postseason for the second consecutive year, change came.
"He's going to bring fresh perspective and that outsider look at our team," Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said. "I don't think that necessarily means that there's sort of an at odds in terms of philosophy. One of the benefits is he'll come in with new eyes and fresh eyes, similar to how [pitching coach] Steve Foster and [bullpen coach] Darren Holmes a few years ago were able to help us see things or unlock things in different ways. That's what his huge experience at the big league level brings."
From 1997, when Clint Hurdle was promoted to the job from the Minor League system, six of the seven hitting coaches -- Hurdle, Alan Cockrell, Espy on two occasions, Don Baylor (the original manager who returned), Carney Lansford and Dante Bichette -- had histories as a Rox player, manager or coach in the Minors or Majors. Only Blake Doyle, who worked under Walt Weiss from 2014-16, came from outside.
But Magadan, 56, approaches this opportunity with an old baseball and life philosophy: Two eyes, two ears, but one mouth ... use them accordingly.
"I just got the job today, and to be able to sit here and tell you every strength and weakness is a little bit disingenuous," Magadan said. "I'm going to sit down, talk to the staff, talk to my assistant hitting coach [Jeff Salazar], talk to the players, talk to everybody involved. Certainly I've got my window into what I saw as a guy on the other side of the field in the 18 games that we played against the Rockies every year."
Magadan, who played 16 seasons in the Majors primarily at the infield corners, actually saw the Rockies from the other dugout back in 2007, his first year with the Red Sox -- who just happened to win the World Series over the Rockies.
Like most hitting coaches, Magadan has seen offensive ups and downs over his career. For example, his 2017 D-backs, who made the postseason, hit a club record 220 home runs. Last year's D-backs posted a .193/.264/.316 slash line in May and had a subpar .661 OPS in September.
Magadan's career has been marked by an aggressive overall approach that is tailored to individual hitters, but he noted that hitting is more than an individual sport. It could be the right message for a Rockies team that at times ended up with empty at-bats, especially in key situations. In winning the NL Wild Card Game over the Cubs, then being swept in three games by the Brewers in the NL Division Series, the Rockies scored just four total runs.
"Really, all you have to do is see what happened in the postseason this past year," Magadan said. "The team that ended up winning it all was the team in Boston. You could tell with their at-bats that they were just trying to do what the game was asking them to do on every at-bat -- whether that meant grinding out an at-bat, going up there being stubborn for a good pitch to hit, moving a runner with an out, hitting behind runners, putting balls in play to get guys in from third.
"You're always going to have those games where you get 18 or 20 hits, hit four or five homers and blow out a team, but how are you smoothing out the rough spots?"
Gideon shifts to first
The Rockies also made official the move of veteran coach Ron Gideon, who had responsibilities all over the diamond the last two seasons, to first-base coach. Gideon, 54, is heading into his 28th year as a professional coach and had served in the Rockies' system as a coach, manager and development supervisor since 1996.
Also locked in on manager Bud Black's coaching staff for 2019 will be: Foster (pitching coach), Holmes (bullpen coach), Salazar (assistant hitting coach), third-base coach Stu Cole and bench coach Mike Redmond.