It’s one of the oldest cliches in sports. “You can’t fire the players so you fire the coach.” In a season that has seen incredibly disappointing production from one of the highest paid and most talented offenses in baseball, management has decided they need to make a change.
Charlie Manuel announced, in a statement late Thursday night, that the Phillies have relieved hitting coach Milt Thompson of his duties and that he will be replaced by current Triple-A and former Phillies hitting coach Greg Gross. Thompson appears to be a scapegoat for poor production from the players who are handsomely paid to score runs.
Thompson, who joined the organization as hitting coach in 2004, is a Phillie through-and-through and holds no animosity toward the organization. “We’d been struggling for a pretty long time and when Ruben and Charlie asked to talk to me tonight, I had an idea of what was going to happen,” Thompson said. “They want a new voice, so I have to respect that. I have nothing but good things to say about the Phillies. I have been a part of the organization for a very long time, and I had some good times.”
Greg Gross, who has been in Lehigh Valley, since being reassigned following Larry Bowa’s firing will take over immediately. But will Gross’ new voice be enough to turn around a slumping offense? “Time will tell,” Thompson said. “I can’t tell that, but I wish them nothing but the best. We’ll have to see.”
Milt, who was by all accounts a genuinely good guy, will be missed around the team. But desperate times call for desperate measures and the Phils needed someone to shoulder the blame.
Unfortunate, but how the business works. Thompson doesn’t plan on leaving baseball either. “I’m a baseball lifer,” he said. “I will be somewhere doing baseball.”
Quotes via Comcast SportsNet.