Braves hire hitting coach Seitzer from Toronto
New hitting coach Kevin Seitzer said he'll bring an up-the-middle philosophy to an Atlanta Braves team which flopped at the plate this season.
The Braves hired Seitzer from the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday to replace Greg Walker. Atlanta also named Jose Castro as assistant hitting coach.
Seitzer said one of his most important lessons will be convincing hitters they make themselves vulnerable by attempting to pull balls with a ''turn-and-burn'' approach.
''It's not impossible, and I kind of feel like that's one of my big strengths, the expertise of being able to show guys how to hit the ball the other way,'' Seitzer said in a telephone interview.
Seitzer, 52, was the hitting coach for Arizona during part of the 2007 season, for Kansas City from 2009-12 and for the Blue Jays this past season. The Blue Jays ranked fourth in the American League in runs scored and third in home runs.
''I'm a big fan of the homer, too, maybe the biggest fan on the planet,'' Seitzer said, adding home runs come when hitters try to hit balls up the middle and to the opposite field.
Walker was assisted by Scott Fletcher this season as the Braves finished a disappointing 79-83.
Walker resigned after the Braves finished 14th in runs scored among National League teams, ahead of only San Diego. Fletcher and third base coach Doug Dascenzo also are not returning.
The Braves led the National League with 181 homers in 2013 but fell to 11th with 123 in 2014.
A key project for Seitzer will be B.J. Upton, who hit .208 with 12 homers this season after hitting .184 with nine homers in 2013.
''I've worked with a lot of guys who have been in the game a long time, and it seems the more guys have struggled later in their careers the more open they are to suggestions,'' Seitzer said.
''I feel like God gave me a gift to be a hitting coach more than He gave me a gift to be a player,'' he said.
A former All-Star third baseman, Seitzer hit .295 in 12 major league seasons with the Royals, Milwaukee, Oakland and Cleveland.
Seitzer said he didn't receive a 2015 contract offer from the Blue Jays until ''maybe a week ago.'' He said he received permission to call the Braves when he couldn't reach a financial agreement with Toronto.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he hopes to utilize Chipper Jones as a hitting consultant. Jones, who retired after the 2012 season, said he wasn't ready to take on a full-time coaching job when approached by the Braves.
''It's something that Kevin and Jose are going to have to talk to Chipper about, but I want to see Chipper around this ballpark a lot more than we saw the last two years,'' Gonzalez said.
Castro, 52, was the Cubs' quality assurance coach this season. He was Seattle's interim hitting coach in 2008 and has worked as a minor league hitting coordinator and coach in the Montreal, Florida, San Diego and Seattle organizations.