The Orioles are parting ways with hitting coach Don Long, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (Twitter link). Assistant hitting coach José Hernández will remain on staff but assume a different role moving forward. Kubatko adds that the rest of manager Brandon Hyde’s staff is expected to return next season, although there could be some form of reshuffling of roles.
Long served as O’s hitting coach for the past three years, taking over in January 2019. The club posted a cumulative .246/.310/.412 line during his tenure, which checks in 24th of the league’s 30 teams by measure of wRC+. (The O's .240/.305/.403 mark this season alone also ranked 24th.) That’s not especially promising production, although it’s tough to judge Long from the outside based solely on results. The O’s have been amid a rebuild for each of those seasons, giving opportunities around the diamond to unproven players.
Long oversaw a breakout 2021 campaign from Cedric Mullins, while Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle have shown enough offensive promise to be potential long-term pieces. However, others like D.J. Stewart and Anthony Santander either haven’t yet cemented themselves or took steps back this season. It seems Hyde and the front office determined that a new voice is necessary as Baltimore continues to break in promising young hitters at the big league level, most notably the player widely regarded as the game’s top overall prospect, Adley Rutschman.
Excepting Long, there seemingly won’t be much change on the big league staff. (Hyde himself has been expected to keep his job for a while now.) However, Kubatko reports on a few more firings among the O’s minor league coaching staff, including the dismissal of Triple-A manager Gary Kendall. The Orioles are expected to offer that vacancy to Buck Britton, reports Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun. Britton, the older brother of Yankees reliever Zack Britton, has coached or managed in the Baltimore system for the past five seasons.