It might not have been Rudy Ruetigger and Notre Dame football under the watchful eye of Touchdown Jesus, but Rudy Jaramillo might just be the patron saint of hitters.
After all, the man the Cubs welcomed as their new hitting coach at a press conference about an hour ago has resurrected the careers of many hitters or at the very least, helped some correct the sins in their swings.
“I’m a teacher first, a coach second,” said the former Texas Rangers hitting coach. “I love to see talent in players and watch them get better….My ability to build rapport with players is good and my communications skills are strong.
“But there has to be a mutual trust between the coach and the player,” Jaramillo added. “You still have to win them over. And when you tell a hitter something, it better work because it’s all about results.” photo by Kelsey Peters
And that is exactly what the Cubs are hoping Jaramillo will be able to do with a Cubs offense that finished 26th in the majors in 2009, scoring just 707 runs and hitting just .255.
“I think everyone in the game, from players to coaches to managers, put this man at the top of the field,” said Cubs general manager Jim Hendry. “There’s no higher standard for a major-league hitting coach than the one he set the last 15 years.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time; we know we had some offensive deficiencies with some outstanding players some of which Rudy has been fortunate to work with in the past,” Hendry added. “We’re excited to round out a great coaching staff, and I know Rudy’s ready to get to work.”
Jaramillo has shown a penchant to work wonders with reclamation projects similar to the Cardinals’ pitching coach Dave Duncan. With Texas, Jaramillo pulled career years out of Mark DeRosa, Milton Bradley and Gary Matthews Jr., not to mention one former Cubs slugger looking to hit a milestone.
“We got 94 RBIs and 22 home runs out of Sammy [Sosa],” Jaramillo said, referring to Sosa’s 2008 campaign with Texas during which he hit his 600th homer. “And he didn’t even get 500 at-bats. So I was very happy to work with Sammy.”
More than anything, Jaramillo isn’t afraid to get into hitters’ faces to make them work harder. He will make sure these players put in their time in the cage, veteran or rookie. He will also make sure they are prepared at the plate, physically and mentally.
“Sometimes players get complacent,” Jaramillo said. “You have to reprogram those hitters. I will get them to believe in themselves.”
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