Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/17/12

With the offense and its expensive centerpiece "grossly underperforming," Los Angeles Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto decided a change was needed.

Dipoto relieved hitting coach Mickey Hatcher of his duties Tuesday, replacing him with Triple-A hitting coach Jim Eppard. Hatcher had been on Mike Scioscia's coaching staff since Scioscia became manager in 2000 and was the longest-tenured hitting coach in baseball. The two were also teammates during their playing days with the Dodgers (including the 1988 championship team) and worked together when Scioscia managed in Triple-A in 1999.

The dismissal of his close friend was the first time in Scioscia's 13 seasons as Angels manager that the team has fired one of his coaches, and the move clearly did not sit well with Scioscia.

"Mickey is a great teacher, a great hitting coach," Scioscia said before Wednesday's game. "We all respect what the GM's office is about and the moves Jerry's looking at to move us forward, and we'll move forward."

Dipoto said he decided the move was necessary in order to get "a new voice" in the mix and turn around an offense that ranks near the bottom of the American League in most offensive categories.

"Eight shutouts in the first 36 games of the season and an offense that was grossly underperforming with what they've historically done," Dipoto said. "This is unfortunately a situation where a message needs to be sent, and a philosophy needs to be instilled. Right now we're struggling to do that, and we just felt like the voice needed to change."

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