Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach Darnell Coles is seen in the dugout during a spring training baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, in Maryvale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
The Arizona Diamondbacks announced on Wednesday that their search for a new hitting coach has come to an end with the hiring of Darnell Coles.
Coles comes to the D-backs after resigning from the same position with the Milwaukee Brewers where he spent for four seasons from 2015-18.
“I just thought it was time,” Coles said of his departure from the NL Central Champion Brewers. “At the end of the day, it was a great run, it was a great season…but i thought it was time to make a change. I wish nothing but the best for them in the future, until they play against us.”
The D-backs interviewed six candidates for the job before selecting Coles. Manager Torey Lovullo said the Diamondbacks stayed patient through the process in order to be able to take advantage of looking at the best names available.
“I felt like there was an immediate connection after sitting down with him,” Lovullo said of Coles. “The things you hear about him, the work ethic everybody talked about, the results that his hitters had, spoke for themselves. It was that connection and his ability to communicate that really stood out.”
Darnell Coles beat out five other hitting coach candidates, per a source:
– Former Cardinals hitting coach John Mabry
– Former Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis
– Dbacks asst. hitting coach Tim Laker
– A's Triple-A manager Eric Chavez
– White Sox hitting coordinator Mike Gellinger
— Zach Buchanan (@ZHBuchanan) October 31, 2018
Coles said that the connection he had with Lovullo from their playing days was a draw to the job, but it was also the organization as a whole that attracted him to join the D-backs’ staff.
“Watching them from afar they’ve always been an organization that did things right,” Coles said. “I love the way they play the game. They’re extremely talented from top to bottom and it seemed like it would be a perfect fit.”
Coles played 14 seasons in MLB before his first coaching job as the Minor League hitting coordinator with the Mariners in 2000. He then joined ESPN as a baseball analyst from 2001-06.
In 2006, Coles went back to coaching at the minor league level with the Washington Nationals organization where he served as a roving hitting instructor, a manager for the Nationals’ Short-Season A team Vermont and hitting coach for Triple-A Syracuse until 2009.
Coles also coached in the Brewers organization as Minor League hitting coordinator and manager of Double-A Hunstsville before his first MLB coaching job came in 2014 with the Detroit Tigers.
In addition to adding Coles, the D-backs announced they will return assistant hitting coach Tim Laker. Hitting strategist Robert Van Scoyoc wil also remain with the team.
Coles’ Hitting Philosophy
For Coles his hitting philosophy is this:
“Getting in a good position to hit, trusting in the fact that you can get yourself in a spot that allows you to recognize and then stay behind the ball without trying to look to pull or go the other way,” Coles said. “I don’t know if it’s a philosophy, but it’s a grounding and a foundation that allows you not to cheat the process so that if they make a mistake on either side of the ball that you’re in position to attack and lay your best swing on it.”
Coles said he embraces the new age analytics approaches to hitting, but acknowledged that every hitter is different so every approach cannot fit the same mold.
“You’ve got to figure out what works for each individual guy and put them in the best possible position to be successful,” Coles said. “All the launch angle stuff comes in as you start to hit the ball further out in front, so there will be ways to get to whatever we need to get with launch angle and exit velocity-wise by talking about it to some, not talking as much to others.”
The plan for Coles is to first get to know the group of guys in the D-backs’ clubhouse and then address the weaknesses at the plate from the 2018 season in order to build upon them and move forward, he said.