Struggling Yankees fire hitting coach Dillon Lawson after loss

NEW YORK -- Hitting coach Dillon Lawson was fired by the New York Yankees after Sunday's 7-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs, a rare midseason change by a franchise that has prized stability since Hal Steinbrenner took over from his father as controlling owner.

New York's .231 batting average is 28th among the 30 major league teams, ahead of only Detroit and Oakland. The Yankees are batting a major league-worst .218 in 31 games since Aaron Judge tore a ligament in his right big toe on June 3, going 14-17 and entering the All-Star break in fourth place of the AL East at 49-42.

New York is fifth in the majors with 129 homers, but 18th in runs and its .300 on-base percentage is tied with Detroit for 26th in the majors.

No replacement was announced. General manager Brian Cashman said he will hire a successor from outside the organization before the Yankee begin the second half Friday in Colorado.

Cashman said assistant hitting coaches Casey Dykes and Brad Wilkerson will be retained and that he decided to make the change on Saturday after the Yankees were handed a 14-1 loss to the Orioles on Thursday and got two hits a night later in a 3-0 loss to the Cubs that marked the 12th time they scored two runs or fewer since Judge was injured and 30th time this year.

"I had a lot of conversations with a lot of people watching our games play out here, especially in the more recent months that I definitely started to feel like I might be in position for the first time," Cashman said.

The Yankees headed into the break with Giancarlo Stanton hitting .203 and Anthony Rizzo is hitting .168 with no homers and seven RBI since hurting his neck in a collision May 28. Josh Donaldson is batting .152 while DJ LeMahieu is hitting .220 after slumping last September because of a toe injury and then missing the playoffs.

"I don't make these decisions lightly," Cashman said. "I've never not been willing to make a decision like this but with careful consideration, I decided as we move forward, we have a sprint here in the second half, I felt like this was necessary.

"Our offense has struggled mightily, more so than I can recall. The team that we have, in fairness to Dillon, we have had some injuries without a doubt but collectively we really have struggled, and we're best served kind of changing things up a little bit as we move into the second half."

It is New York's first in-season coaching change since Nardi Contreras replaced Billy Connors in July 1995 as pitching coach on Buck Showalter's staff.

Lawson joined the Yankees as minor league hitting coordinator for 2019 and was promoted to major league hitting coach for 2022 to succeed Marcus Thames, who held the position for five seasons.

Before joining the Yankees, he was an assistant coach at Lindenwood from 2007 to '09, Morehead State from 2009 to 2012 and Southeast Missouri State from 2012 to '15, then worked for the Houston Astros at Tri-City in 2016 and Quad Cities in 2018, spending 2017 as hitting coach at the University of Missouri.

In Lawson's first season, New York's .241 average was tied for 15th with San Diego but the Yankees were second with 807 runs and led the majors with 254 homers led by Judge's AL record 62 while winning 99 games in the regular season.

During the postseason, New York batted .173 (49-for-284) with 103 strikeouts in nine games against Cleveland and Houston.