The Phillies are set to hire Kevin Long as their new hitting coach, Britt Ghiroli and Matt Gelb of The Athletic report (via Twitter). Long, who has been the Nationals’ hitting coach for the past four seasons, will be reunited with manager Joe Girardi and bench coach Rob Thomson in Philadelphia. The trio worked together in New York, where Long served as the hitting coach for much of Girardi’s managerial tenure. Long was on a one-year contract with the Nats for the 2021 season, and while he was reportedly open to a return to D.C., he also had the freedom to gauge interest elsewhere.
With the Phillies, Long will replace the recently dismissed Joe Dillon — his former assistant hitting coach with the Nats. The Phils hired Dillon as their hitting coach prior to the 2020 season, but his tenure proved relatively short, as the Phils made some changes to Girardi’s staff after another disappointing playoff miss. Phillies hitters ranked sixth in the Majors in walk rate from 2020-21 and are tied for the seventh-lowest team strikeout rate at 22.6 percent in that same span. They ranked 10th in runs scored (1040), 13th in home runs (280) and posted an overall .244/.324/.417 batting line (97 wRC+) during Dillon’s two years as hitting coach.
Moving from Washington to Philadelphia, Long will also reunite with one of his highest-profile pupils, Bryce Harper, whom he coached with the Nationals during Harper’s final season prior to free agency. (His time with the Yankees did not overlap with embattled Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius.) Girardi and Long had a heated exchange earlier this season after Girardi called for then-Nationals ace Max Scherzer to be checked for foreign substances on the mound mid-inning, though doesn’t seem to have formed a lasting rift between the longtime colleagues, based on today’s news.
Long, 54, has a pair of World Series rings: one for his 2009 work with the Yankees and a second for with the 2019 Nationals. He served as Yankees hitting coach from 2007-14 before joining the Mets in the same capacity from 2015-17 and the Nationals from 2018-21.
The Phils also parted ways with infield coach Juan Castro and gave assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero the freedom to explore other opportunities, so Long’s hiring will be the first of at least a couple of coaching changes in the weeks to come.