Braves hitting coach quits after dismal season

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ATLANTA (AP) — The changes keep coming for the Atlanta Braves.

Already in the market for a general manager, they'll have to hire a new hitting coach as well.

Greg Walker resigned from the coaching staff Tuesday, a move that was expected after the Braves struggled through a miserable season offensively.

Atlanta batted .241 as a team and scored only 573 runs, the second-lowest total in the majors. Only seven teams hit fewer homers than the Braves (123), an especially troubling number because the team had the fourth-most strikeouts (1,369) and was supposedly built for power.

Down the stretch, the offense was especially feeble. The Braves lost 18 of their final 25 games to fall out of playoff contention, a stretch that included six shutouts and an average of less than 2.4 runs per game.

In a statement issued by the team, Walker said he told manager Fredi Gonzalez of the decision to quit during the final weekend of the season at Philadelphia.

"I grew up in south Georgia and have been a Braves fan my whole life," said Walker, a native of Douglas. "I am grateful for the opportunity they gave me."

Walker had been the hitting coach for three years, coming to Atlanta after serving in the same position with the Chicago White Sox from 2003-11.

Gonzalez is scheduled to meet Wednesday with interim general manager John Hart, a session that could lead to more changes on the coaching staff. Walker's assistant hitting coach, Scott Fletcher, is also thought to be in jeopardy.

"It's so easy to blame the coaches in any sport," Gonzalez said the day after the season ended. "Would I like to keep my staff completely? Absolutely. Is that going to happen? I'll call you as soon as I get out of the meeting."

The Braves began their overhaul by firing general manager Frank Wren with a week to go in the season. They finished 79-83, only their third losing season in the last 24 years.

The new GM will be hired by a committee comprised of Hart, team president John Schuerholz and former manager Bobby Cox.

Cox has expressed strong support for keeping Gonzalez as manager, but the new GM will likely have the final say on whether there's a change in the dugout.

"I feel more for the coaches than I do myself," Gonzalez said. "That's part of it from my end."


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