ANAHEIM (AP) — Don Baylor is returning to the Los Angeles Angels to be their hitting coach.
The Angels hired Baylor on Wednesday to replace Jim Eppard, who wasn’t retained by manager Mike Scioscia.
The 64-year-old Baylor had been Arizona’s hitting coach for the past three years. The former manager of the Rockies and Cubs should be a respected veteran voice on Scioscia’s coaching staff, which is undergoing an overhaul after the big-budget Angels’ worst season in a decade.
“Don enjoyed a distinguished playing career, highlighted by his tenure with the Angels during their first two division championships,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “As a coach, he brings us tremendous expertise in the areas of hitting, communication and presence. It’s nice to have him home.”
Many Orange County fans still have fond memories of Baylor, who won the AL MVP award while playing for the Angels in 1979, batting .296 with 36 homers and 139 RBIs. He spent six seasons with the then-California Angels, becoming the team’s clubhouse leader while hitting 141 homers.
Eppard and bench coach Rob Picciolo were let go by the Angels last week. Scioscia and Dipoto kept their jobs despite the Angels’ 78-84 finish in third place in the AL West in their fourth consecutive season out of the playoffs.
Third base coach Dino Ebel was promoted to bench coach, but Scioscia hasn’t yet replaced Ebel at third base. The Angels also are likely to hire one or two additional assistant coaches, Dipoto said.
Scioscia and Dipoto both praised Eppard while letting him go — and hitting wasn’t usually the Angels’ biggest problem last season despite underwhelming performances by high-priced sluggers Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.
Los Angeles was third in the AL in team average (.264) and hits (1,476), finishing sixth with 733 runs.
Pitching coach Mike Butcher kept his job despite the Angels’ 4.23 team ERA — 11th in the AL. Only Minnesota and Houston allowed more hits in the league than the Los Angeles pitchers (1,475).
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