In a move that seemingly came out of nowhere on Thursday, the Kansas City Royals reassigned first-year hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David. In a corresponding and equally stunning move, the Royals announced that Hall of Famer George Brett and minor league coach Pedro Grifol will assume interim hitting coach positions effective immediately.
The big news is the return of Brett to the Royals bench. Brett turned 60 earlier this month and has been the club’s vice president of baseball operations since he retired after the 1993 season. He has worked with Royals hitters in an unofficial capacity during almost every spring training since his retirement, but he has largely remained hands-off when the regular season begins.
Brett has long claimed he didn’t want to be a coach or a manager because he didn’t want to spend that much time away from his family. Somehow, Royals general manager Dayton Moore convinced the Hall of Famer that he was needed. Kansas City has lost eight straight games and the team has dropped 19 of its last 23 contests.
The Royals are last in the American League in home runs with 28, and have only hit two since May 14. Both of those home runs came off the bat of 39-year-old backup infielder Miguel Tejada.
Brett was a 13-time All-Star and spent his entire 21-year major league career with the Royals. He won three batting titles and in 1990 became the first player to win a batting crown in three different decades (1976, 1980 and 1990).
Brett is 15th on baseball’s all-time hits list (3,154), is sixth in doubles (665) and finished his career with 317 home runs and 1,595 RBIs.
He will be expected to turn things around for the Royals’ hitters, but he’ll definitely have a long leash based on his relationship with the organization.