Breaking News: Los Angeles Dodgers Fire Hitting Coach Jeff Pentland

Ross Zelen@@RZelenCorrespondent IIJuly 20, 2011

General Manager Ned Colletti just announced the firing of hitting coach Jeff Pentland.

Pentland, a 15 year major league hitting coach, was a respected man in the Dodgers organization and was the right hand man of ex-hitting coach and current manager, Don Mattingly

Dave Hansen was named interim hitting coach. He was serving in Pentland's old position as instructor of hitting prior to the change.

Hansen, the famous old Dodger pinch-hitting expert, has only coached for a few seasons, so he finds himself in a precarious situation. After being a minor league instructor for the Arizona Diamondbacks for the last three seasons, Hansen joined Mattingly's first coaching staff this season. 

The Dodgers are abysmal this year offensively, ranking 29th in runs scored and batting only .250 as a team. Numerous players are batting well below their career averages, and trades over the next couple weeks could decimate the offensive talent even further. 

Sluggers Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp were quite disappointed about the news, which they only learned a couple hours before their afternoon game in San Francisco against the hated Giants. 

"You feel for all things leading up to this,’’ Andre Ethier said.

"He was a good hitting coach,'' Matt Kemp said. "I just feel bad that he lost his job on our behalf.''

Ned Colletti spoke about how he debated replacing Pentland before the All-Star break, but held off on making the decision because he hoped the Dodgers would break out of their season long slump.

A nice idea, but when the players the team plays are less than mediocre, a coach can only do so much. 

“It was a very tough decision,” Colletti said. “This is a good man. Pent has always been a good man and a very good hitting guy, but this is a reflection on how we’re hitting.”

The team ranked 26th in slugging percentage with a meager .361 mark and 20th in on-base percentage with a .314 average.

Tied for last place in the National League West with the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers look to break a six game losing streak against the Giants as they send Clayton Kershaw to the mound. 

In a sad twist of irony, Kershaw's .279 batting average was higher than 5 of today's starters. Rafael Furcal's .165 and Juan Uribe's .207 highlight the disappointing lineup, about which even Don Mattingly vented a little frustration. 

“It’s a pretty [bad] day, honestly,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “I know how much (Pentland) worked and how much he cared about these guys. It’s a pretty disappointing day."

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