Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 5/16/12
When Peter Bourjos was in triple-A Salt Lake two years ago, hitting coach Jim Eppard emphasized one of the principles of his teaching: Have a plan, and stick to it. For Bourjos, it was look for the outside fastball and drive it to right-center field. Bourjos finished with a record 60 hits that July and was summoned Aug. 3 to the major leagues, where he remains. Eppard joined his former student Wednesday, replacing Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, who was fired Tuesday after the team had sputtered to a 16-21 start while being shut out eight times, worst in the big leagues. "He doesn't dwell on mechanics," Bourjos said of Eppard, a former Angel who spent the last 10 seasons as Salt Lake hitting coach. "It's having a plan, executing by not deviating from your plan. When you're at this level, your swing is your swing. If you have confidence in your approach, you'll have success. Eppard simplifies your plan, he keeps it easy." The Angels, starting with slugger Albert Pujols (one home run), thus far have made hitting appear highly complex, ranking 12th in the American League in runs scored. That's highly disappointing, given the investment in Pujols, and this year's contract extensions that went to second baseman Howie Kendrick and shortstop Erick Aybar, who has dropped from the leadoff spot to No. 8 in the batting order by batting .187. "Mickey brought energy, he worked his rear off, it's tough to see him go," Bourjos said. "I could never beat him to the field. ... I think everyone feels bad. We always put it on ourselves." Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto decided to fire Hatcher before Tuesday's 4-0 victory over the Oakland A's, and Dipoto and Angels Manager Mike Scioscia -- a former Dodgers teammate and longtime advocate of Hatcher -- informed Hatcher of his firing after the game. Scioscia stopped far short of saying he endorsed Hatcher's firing, after late last month saying he was confident Hatcher was the right man to guide the Angels through their struggles on offense. "Mickey was a great teacher and great hitting coach," Scioscia said. "We all respect what the general manager's office is looking out for ... we were not in a funk because of Mickey Hatcher. We respect the decision, and go on." Said Angels outfielder Vernon Wells of Dipoto's breaking the Scioscia-Hatcher bond: "Not everything in this game is going to make you happy. ... It's a tough day. It's gotta be difficult on Scioscia." Eppard comes to Anaheim possessing what he called "a mental tape" of players such as Bourjos, slugger Mark Trumbo, leadoff hitter Mike Trout, Kendrick and others he helped in Salt Lake. "The important thing is getting back to basics, hitting a good pitch, going after it," Eppard said. Eppard said he respects Pujols so much that "I ask Albert a lot of questions. I'm constantly trying to learn myself." Eppard added that sorting out the slugger's missing power will "be a topic for down the road." Shortly after, Scioscia interrupted Eppard's introductory news conference and told him, "You've got guys waiting for you" in the clubhouse. Trumbo, who hit 36 home runs with Eppard in Salt Lake in 2010, said the new coach "really understands the struggles of going through a season -- he was a fantastic hitter himself." Trumbo said he refined his strike zone under Eppard and incorporated "little antidotes that can make a difference." Now, Trumbo said, "It's up to us as players to get it done. "It seems like the fans have been calling for Hatcher's firing for a long time. You can call for a guy's head for years on end, but unless you're seeing the effort the man Hatcher puts in day in and day out ... " --Lance Pugmire
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Indians reveal Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field

Report: Jerry West considered rejoining the Lakers before they hired Magic Johnson

The NHL is thinking about hosting an outdoor game in Nashville

Michael Vick in talks to retire with Falcons

Hall of Fame pitcher and former U.S. Senator Jim Bunning passes away at 85

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Roger Goodell to speak at Rams event, tickets start at $550

Ohio State hails itself as the ‘fastest team in college football’

Get a look at Shia LeBeouf as John McEnroe in Borg/McEnroe movie trailer

Draymond Green is the most efficient defender in the NBA

It’s not even June, but the San Francisco Giants are probably screwed

Odell Beckham Jr. appears to take shot at Ben McAdoo

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker