After giving the boot to former hitting coach Larry Parrish just two days after the disappointing conclusion of the 2011 season, the Atlanta Braves hired former Chicago White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker. The Braves also hired Scott Fletcher as the new advance coach/assistant hitting coach.
Fletcher's new position as advance scout will not be the traditional type that travels in front of the team. Instead, he will be watching televised games and gather data online.
"The combination of the two, we believe, will give us a very dynamic coaching staff from the hitting perspective," Frank Wren said.
Walker now becomes the Braves' third hitting coach in three years and will look to right the batting averages of a team that won only nine games in September en route to blowing an 8 1/2-game lead for the Wild Card. The Georgia native spent the last 8 1/2 seasons with the White Sox and was one of three candidates formally interviewed for the job.
"We were all impressed with Greg, not only with his experience and his knowledge of hitting, [but also the] record and reputation he has in the game," Wren said. "It was very apparent to us after that interview that he would be a good fit for us."
Walker's coaching ability drew rave reviews from White Sox veterans A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko during his time in Chicago. But this past year, he was unable to get Adam Dunn going and also took exception to some things general manager Kenny Williams said about former University of Georgia standout Gordon Beckham. This led to a heated exchange between Walker and Williams in a tunnel at U.S. Cellular Field.
Walker even considered not coaching in 2012, even before Ozzie Guillen departed for the Florida Marlins, until he learned that Parrish had been fired. Though he grew up a Braves fan, Walker spent the vast majority of his nine-year playing career with the White Sox.
"I'm thrilled to be a part of the Atlanta Braves family," Walker said. "It's pretty humbling that the team you grew up with actually trusts you to work for them and do an important job like the hitting coach … I'm thrilled to be on board. Being a part of the Braves organization has been a lifelong dream of mine."
Walker is faced with the task of reversing course on what used to be one of the National League's most disciplined offenses. The Braves led the NL in on-base percentage in 2010 but slipped to 14th in 2011.Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Greg Walker, MLB, Scott Fletcher