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Rays look to new hitting coach Chad Mottola to build on past successes

Introducing the new Rays hitting coach

Chicago White Sox v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

With the firing of Derek Shelton, the Rays hitting coach of seven seasons, Tampa Bay has promoted Chad Mottola from system hitting coordinator to the major league staff.

Chad Mottola previously served one year as the Blue Jays hitting coach, and was promoted to the position from Triple-A when the previous coach of three seasons Dwayne Murphy switched to the first base coach position.

With the Blue Jays, Mottola was often tasked working with the younger players in the organization, and was credited with Colby Rasmus’s turnaround in 2013, where he went from an 82 to 130 wRC+.

The following season, when Murphy retired, Mottola was released in a coaching reorganization. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons had only been able to name one coaching hire in his first year on the job, and wanted to dictate his staff in his second season at the helm. And so it was in 2014 that Mottola was able to join the Rays organization.

As the Rays hitting coordinator, Mottola has indeed been instrumental in working with several Rays prospects across the system. Case in point, Mottola is credited behind the scenes with the adjustment to Daniel Robertson’s swing that has helped him succeed against Triple-A pitching after recovering from a broken hamate bone.

Since July 17th, about two weeks before Baseball America wrote about Robertson's hitting renaissance, the former 66th ranked prospect in baseball has a .287/.426/.434 slash line, with a 155 wRC+, 16.0 BB%, 18.4 K%, 6 HBP and 13 XBH over 163 PA.

In the industry, Mottola is known as an outside-the-box thinker when it comes to hitting approaches, and our site’s hitting consultant Curt Wilson says that he has seen Mottola help many players adjust their stance and swing, making lots of headway with plenty of minor leaguers.

Mottola has spent three years working with the Rays’ future, and now will have the opportunity to continue that work at the major league level. Matt Silverman’s words on Mottola’s promotion to hitting coach were brief, but echoed the same sentiment in an initial press release:

“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.”

And had more to add in conversation with Marc Topkin:

Silverman said Mottola, who may be a bit broader and less technical in style than Shelton, could be a better conduit.

"Seven years together with our hitters, that approach is one we've been able to get a lot out of it. Derek has changed his message as our personnel has changed, as our philosophies have changed," Silverman said.

"But the connections with the players, we think that there is a possibility and a hope that some of that can improve with a different person in that chair, with a different voice, different relationships, a fresh start."

Mottola will join the Rays for their four-game series at Yankee Stadium, beginning tonight.

The former outfielder was selected fifth overall in the 1992 June Draft by the Cincinnati Reds—one pick before the New York Yankees selected Derek Jeter.

Mottola attended the University of Central Florida in Orlando and St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale. He then spent 16 seasons playing professionally, including a brief time in the Rays minor leagues in 2003.

Chad Mottola Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

This is Chad. He might be a really good coach.