Padres tab Rettenmund hitting coach

Padres tab Rettenmund hitting coach

SAN DIEGO -- In an effort to put a charge in an inconsistent offense, the Padres relieved hitting coach Dave Magadan of his duties following Thursday's 7-3 loss to the Dodgers at PETCO Park.

Hired to replace Magadan, who served as the club's hitting coach since the 2003 season, was Merv Rettenmund, who played two seasons for San Diego (1976-77) and was the club's hitting coach from 1991 through '99.

"This is my decision," said general manager Kevin Towers, adding that the players had no input. "Obviously, time will tell if this is the right decision.

"It really just came down to results. It had nothing to do with personalities. To a man, Dave is a quality individual who cared a great deal. It would be hard to find anyone who outworked him, preparing hitters, going over video. For some reason, we haven't been able to improve offensively as a club. It could be the ballpark, the product ... he's certainly not entirely to blame.

"We're just trying to find a way to jump-start this offense. Merv is someone we know well, and he's an extremely positive individual."

The Padres are batting .252 as a team -- last in the National League. Only the Chicago Cubs have lower on-base and slugging marks than the Friars, who are at .322 in on-base percentage and .391 in slugging.

Even so, the Padres have outscored the opposition, 290 to 277, ranking 14th in runs scored.

According to manager Bruce Bochy, "The organization felt change was needed, that the offense was not what we needed it to be.

"Dave was doing all he could, with real passion. He worked very hard at trying to get the offense going. We spend a lot of time together, put in a lot of hours together. With Dave, we've become a family, so to speak. That always makes this difficult.

"Merv and I have been together for years. Sometimes a different approach, seeing something different, can get different results. They're different people. How [they differ in approach] is hard to describe at this point. Both work very hard at what they do."

Magadan, 43, is generally considered more intense than the freewheeling Rettenmund, who has more than four decades of experience in professional baseball, going back to his youth in the Baltimore Orioles system.

Rettenmund played 13 seasons with the Orioles, Reds, Padres and Angels, batting .271 in 1,023 career games.

Magadan, 43, was a .288 career hitter in 16 seasons with the Mets, Marlins, Mariners, Astros, Cubs, A's and Padres.

Magadan was "shocked," Towers said, when he got the word. Rettenmund, who lives five blocks from PETCO Park, will join the club in Anaheim on Friday when it opens a six-game road trip with the second round of Interleague Play.

Rettenmund worked with batting champions Tony Gwynn and Gary Sheffield in San Diego and was also highly regarded by the likes of Ken Caminiti, Steve Finley and Wally Joyner.

"We certainly had some success here with Merv in the past," Towers said. "We talk about a lot of different individuals -- the Caminitis, Finleys, Joyners -- veteran players who really took to him. He's had a lot of experience and has had success. We didn't want to see him leave the first time."

Rettenmund left the Padres for a multiyear deal in Atlanta in 2000 and was there for two years before joining Detroit in 2002. He had been with Toronto since 2003 and was serving as the Blue Jays' roving hitting instructor when Towers requested permission to talk with him.

"This came up in the past 24 to 48 hours," said Towers, who had evaluated Magadan and the rest of the staff following the team's NL West title in 2005 with an 82-80 record.

Base coaches Rob Picciolo and Davey Lopes were dismissed over the winter, replaced by Glenn Hoffman and Tye Waller.

Bench coach Tony Muser, pitching coach Darren Balsley and bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds remain from the staff that finished the 2005 season.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.