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Joyner is new Padres hitting coach

Joyner is new Padres hitting coach

SAN DIEGO -- The old baseball card with Merv Rettenmund's face on it has been stuck to Brian Giles' locker for some time, although the Padres' right fielder likely looked at it with a little more reverence than amusement Tuesday.

The Padres relieved Rettenmund of his duties as hitting coach on Tuesday, hours before the start of a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at PETCO Park. The news of Rettenmund's dismissal wasn't met well in the clubhouse.

"Our offense has been taking a beating. The public has been calling for him," Giles said. "It's a shame. I think it's nothing Merv did. He didn't go up and hit the ball. We've been really poor at situational hitting this year. Everyone to a man here would admit we failed him individually. It cost the guy his job."

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Rettenmund, who was very popular among Padres' position players for his one-on-one style of teaching hitting and his upbeat persona, will be replaced by Wally Joyner, who played for the Padres (1996-1999) and has ties to general manager Kevin Towers and manager Bud Black.

The move came on a busy Tuesday when the Padres made three trades before the non-waiver trading deadline that netted them four players, including former All-Star third baseman Morgan Ensberg.

But the buzz -- well, if you could call it that -- inside the clubhouse had more to do with the dismissal of Rettenmund, who was San Diego's hitting coach from 1991-99 and again from June 15, 2006, until Tuesday.

"I have always been very vocal about Merv through all the ups and downs. But I have no control over that," Padres outfielder Mike Cameron said. "You just pick up the pieces and move on. There isn't really much you can do, I can't control it. I can't do anything about the situation."

Reached by telephone Tuesday, Rettenmund said he wasn't the least bit surprised by the decision. He even joked about the timing of it all.

"It thought it would have happened yesterday," he said.

"We've been scuffling a lot. The players have been working [hard]. They're better than their performances. But it's sure not the players. I do hope these guys get on a roll in the second half."

The Padres' offense ranks last in the Major Leagues in batting average (.244), 13th in the National League in runs and 15th in on-base percentage. The Padres have lost 19 one-run games this season and have struggled at times with runners in scoring position.

In a results-oriented business, the results from the offense simply weren't good enough.

"[It was] more from approach than looking at batting average," Towers said. "There are areas we can improve as a ballclub. Hopefully Wally can do what Merv did for us last year. Hopefully, he can get us where we need to go."

Oddly enough, it was Rettenmund who was hired last June to replace Dave Magadan, who was let go after the organization felt the offense had underachieved. Towers was quick to point out that the team wasn't solely pinning the blame for the team's struggling offense on Rettenmund's shoulders.

"I think we all need to hold ourselves accountable. Some of it could be product. As I said, I think it wasn't as much the numbers as it was hitters' approach," Towers said. "We felt that maybe the plan of attack could have been a little better. I'm not placing the blame on Merv. Some of it was probably Merv. Some it was me. Some of it was the players."

Rettenmund said that his only regret was that the continual preaching of better situational hitting might have been too great at times.

"Maybe we worked too hard on situational hitting. We did it a lot in Spring Training. It just wasn't there sometimes," he said.

In Joyner, the Padres will get a familiar face, someone who isn't completely foreign to the organization. Joyner was a special hitting instructor in Spring Training and in 2003 was a roving hitting instructor in the Padres' Minor League system.

Towers played baseball with Joyner at Brigham Young and Black was the pitching coach for the Angels in 2001, the last year of Joyner's Major League career.

"Wally was a very patient hitter when he played. He knew the strike zone, and he knew what his strengths were, what his weaknesses were," Towers said. "As a hitter he always had a lot of confidence. He's a good communicator. I think that he'll be very successful."

"My hope is we don't have to do this [hire a new hitting coach] each and every year."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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