June 27th, 2012

Toby Harrah sticking with Tigers to work with hitters

Add the Tigers to the list of teams using two coaches to work with hitters. It’s a trend that has been growing in the big leagues, but it’ll be a first for manager Jim Leyland on his staff.

Technically, it isn’t a new hire. Toby Harrah, the Tigers’ organizational hitting instructor, joined up with the team here in Texas, where he was a three-time All-Star for the Rangers and remains a popular figure. Once the Tigers head to Tampa Bay, however, Harrah is going with them.

The plan is for him to stick around with the team off and on for the rest of the season, working with hitting coach Lloyd McClendon.

MLive.com reported the move Wednesday evening.

“He’s just going to kind of tag along up here for a while and just take a look at some guys,” manager Jim Leyland said after Wednesday’s loss. “We’ve had so many guys struggling, it’s nice to have another helping hand.”

Scott Miller of CBSSports.com profiled the trend of teams adding coaches for hitting in a story earlier this month. The Braves, Cardinals and Padres reportedly use two hitting coaches, while other teams have added assistants to help out.

A large part of the trend involves workload. Between extra hitting in indoor cages, early batting practice for hitters working on adjustments, plus video analysis, the job has involved and grown.

“A lot of teams have gone to that now,” Leyland said. “This is really nothing new. I don’t know how long Toby’s going to be here. I think he’ll probably come and go a little bit, but he’s going to be around. A lot of teams have done this. I know Tony La Russa did this with the Cardinals. They had two guys over there to kind of help out, because when you get more than one or two guys struggling, it’s a pretty big job for one guy.”

But the addition also coincides with a Tigers offense that, while posting respectable stats among American League clubs, hasn’t put up the run totals that were expected once Detroit added Prince Fielder to go with Miguel Cabrera, Delmon Young and a young core. The Tigers scored five runs during their three-game series in Pittsburgh last weekend, and have had other stretches where opposing pitchers shut down the offense and induced hitters to chase pitches out of the strike zone.

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers at Rangers

Originally, Alex Avila wasn’t expected to start tonight, so that he could be fresh for Thursday night’s opener at Tampa Bay. However, he’s in the lineup tonight. When asked if that means Avila won’t play Thursday, Leyland said, “I have no idea.”

If he feels good, though, he probably will play Thursday, then sit Friday against Rays lefty David Price.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Quintin Berry, LF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, DH
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Brennan Boesch, RF
  9. Ryan Raburn, 2B

P: Doug Fister

RANGERS

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Elvis Andrus, SS
  3. Josh Hamilton, DH
  4. Adrian Beltre, 3B
  5. Michael Young, 1B
  6. Nelson Cruz, RF
  7. David Murphy, LF
  8. Mike Napoli, C
  9. Leonys Martin, CF

P: Roy Oswalt

 

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