Angels fire coach Mickey Hatcher

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Angels, off to a disappointing start due in large part to a sputtering offense, fired hitting coach Mickey Hatcher Tuesday night and promoted Jim Eppard from Triple-A Salt Lake to replace him.

Newly-acquired superstar Albert Pujols is off to the worst start of his career and the Angels rank 13th in the American League in runs, seventh in batting average (.250) and 12th in on-base percentage. The Angels have been shut out eight times this season, the most in the majors.

After Tuesday's 4-0 win over the Oakland Athletics, the Angels -- picked by many to reach the World Series -- are 16-21 and seven games behind the first-place Texas Rangers.

Hatcher, 57, joined the Angels in 2000, shortly after they hired manager Mike Scioscia, a former Los Angeles Dodgers teammate and a close friend.

"Mickey is a terrific guy, well-liked, very energetic and hard-working.
This is about providing a different voice for our offensive players,"
general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "It's a results-oriented business we're in and we need to find a way to string together something better than what we are right now. It's a decision to find a different voice."

Tuesday's move reflects a difference of philosophy between previous regimes in Anaheim and Dipoto's increased emphasis on on-base percentage and the incorporation of advanced analytics into the team's approach. Hatcher emphasized an aggressive approach at the plate.

"We've struggled with situational hitting, we've struggled to get on base in ways other than the safely hit ball," Dipoto said. "Good hitters are also patient hitters. This is not necessarily about the individual message as much as the team-wide message we need to stress with our players."

Pujols, a three-time MVP in the National League, had three infield hits Tuesday to raise his average to .212. He has hit one home run in 146 at-bats.

Hatcher had grown unpopular with Angels fans as the team struggled to score runs in 2010 and 2011. Then, with expectations sky high for 2012, the season began in a similar pattern, with the Angels struggling to get on base and often stranding runners in scoring position.

In 2009, the Angels set franchise records for batting average (.285), hits, runs and RBIs.