Parrish dismissed as Braves hitting coach
Atlanta's offense struggled throughout season, especially at end
ATLANTA -- The Braves will have their third hitting coach in three years when the 2012 season begins.
Though manager Fredi Gonzalez said on Thursday that each of the members of his coaching staff would return next year, Braves general manager Frank Wren revealed on Friday that hitting coach Larry Parrish was relieved of his duties.
"There were enough questions in our minds that we couldn't go forward toward 2012 with a good feeling that changes would be made," Wren said. "Changes need to be made. They need to me made with a number of our hitters and our overall offensive production."
When Gonzalez was asked about the future of his coaching staff Thursday morning, the Braves were fewer than 12 hours removed from a crushing season-ending loss that completed their historic collapse. They did not earn a playoff spot after entering the season's final 23 games with an 8 1/2-game lead in the National League Wild Card standings.
After he and Gonzalez met with Parrish at Turner Field Thursday afternoon, Wren moved closer to making the decision after he spent a few more hours evaluating what he saw from his offense and certain hitters this past year.
"My concerns going in, based on what I saw all season long, were amplified in that meeting," Wren said. "I came away from that meeting at 3 or 3:30 yesterday afternoon pretty sure we needed to make a change. The more I pondered it and thought about it, the more I knew the right thing was to make the change."
Less than a year after hiring Parrish to replace current first-base coach Terry Pendleton as the hitting coach, Wren called Parrish on Friday afternoon to inform him that he was being relieved of his duties.
During his one season in Atlanta, Parrish showed why he is so widely respected around the baseball world. But after spending most of the previous two decades as a Minor League manager in the Tigers organization, the former All-Star outfielder seemed to have a tough time getting comfortable with his new role in a new organization.
Three weeks into the season, one veteran Braves player said many of the players gained the sense during Spring Training that there might be some communication issues.
"I just think the overall philosophy and the message did not get through to the players," Wren said. "The players have to take responsibility as well, because we've got guys who have played for a number of years and they know what they're doing. So it's not all on the hitting coach by any means.
"But we did feel like we were not on the same page philosophically from a hitting perspective going forward."
The Braves went from being one of the game's most disciplined lineups to a free-swinging one during Parrish's tenure. Atlanta led the National League with a .339 on-base percentage in 2010, but was 14th this past season with a .308 mark.
Early-season offensive woes seemed to take a toll on some of the club's top relievers, who were being forced to pitch in tight situations on a regular basis. The offense's struggles down the stretch were magnified as the club lost 18 of its final 26 games.
The Braves scored two runs or fewer 10 times in September and five times in their final seven games. They also hit just .192 with runners in scoring position during the final 26 games.
Wren said he would look at a wide-ranging list of candidates to serve as the club's hitting coach this season.
"We're going to make an exhaustive search," Wren said. "There's no timetable. There's no rush. We want to make sure we get the right person that fits our organization and what our expectations are."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.