The Indians are parting ways with hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo, reports Zack Meisel of the Athletic (Twitter link). Meisel notes he’d been the longest-tenured active hitting coach in MLB. Assistant hitting coaches Victor Rodriguez and Justin Toole are expected to remain on staff, Meisel adds, but the club will pursue a new hitting coach from outside the organization.
The 57-year-old Van Burkleo appeared in the majors from 1993-94. Since retiring as a player, he’d worked in a series of coaching and player development roles, including stints as a hitting coach with the A’s and Astros and a season as the Mariners’ bench coach. Van Burkleo joined Cleveland entering the 2013 campaign, Terry Francona’s first year as Indians manager.
Francona has missed the end of each of the past two seasons because of health issues. He’s expected to return to the dugout in 2022, although he’ll do so without Van Burkleo alongside him for the first time in his Cleveland tenure. Francona and company have had plenty of success in recent years, including a 2016 American League pennant that saw Cleveland come within a game of their first World Series title since 1948.
The Indians had a disappointing 2021 campaign, though, tailing off after a solid start to the year. Cleveland had a below-average offensive unit, slashing just .238/.304/.408 (excluding pitchers). That mark ranked 22nd out of the league’s 30 clubs by measure of wRC+. Of course, some struggles at the plate were to be expected for a team that saw the departures of Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana last offseason.