ST. PETERSBURG .— The Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday fired hitting coach Derek Shelton, who had spent the last seven seasons with the team, and replaced him by promoting Chad Mottola.
Shelton, who was hired by the Rays on Oct. 21, 2009, was often a target of criticism from fans frustrated by the team’s lack of offensive punch. The Rays entered Tuesday batting .243, tied for third lowest in the major leagues. With 26 games remaining in the season they are 58-78, 18.5 games out of first place in the American League East.
Mottola, who spent the past three seasons as a minor-league hitting coordinator for the Rays, will join the Rays for their four-game series at Yankee Stadium later this week.
“We decided it was time for a new voice,” Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said in a statement. “Chad has worked with players throughout the organization for several years now, and we are excited for the perspectives and experiences he will bring to this role.”
Mottola joined the Rays organization in 2014. Shelton came to the Rays after five seasons as hitting coach for the Cleveland Indians.
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