Hudgens: “I feel good that I did everything I could possibly do”
Minutes after Monday’s loss to the Pirates, the Mets dismissed hitting coach Dave Hudgens, who spoke to MLB.com about the move:
MLB.com: Did this catch you by surprise?
Dave Hudgens: “A little bit. It’s not like we were last in the league in everything. I think we’re middle of the pack. We’re really good on the road and not so good at home. I don’t have any control over these situations. All I can control is the work that I do and how I relate to the guys and how I go about my business.”
MLB.com: What was the issue with the hitting execution?
DH: “I really just think guys tried to hard at home. I think the fans are really tough on the guys at home. How can you boo Curtis Granderson? They have no idea how hard this guy works and how he goes about doing his business, doing his job. He gets off to a slow start and they’re booing him? Come on. It’s tougher at home to play than it is on the road, there’s no doubt about it. And they’re trying really hard at home.
“You can see it in the statistics. The fly ball rates went up, the swing and miss rates went up at home. I think we were first in the league in runs scored on the road, so I think guys were relaxed on the road. They could just go out and play the game, don’t worry about anything. Then at home, they’re trying to do so much. I’ve never seen that work out — especially young players trying to do more than they should be doing. When you look at the numbers inside the numbers, and you see exit velocity rates going down at home, you see fly ball rates going up, you see swing-and-miss rates going up, you see chase rates going up a little bit — although we’re best in the league in not chasing pitches out of the zone — I think those things, it just means guys trying to do too much, trying to hard.”
MLB.com: How much does that begin and end with the dimensions?
DH: “Maybe a little bit as far as a guy hits a ball in the gap, gets no results and thinks he has to swing a little bit harder. But I think they just want to do so well at home because we’ve struggled. It’s one of those things where they try too hard even though they tell themselves to relax. They do a great job of getting prepared for the game — home and road they do exactly the same kind of routines and preparations. So I just think it’s like, ‘Man, I want to do something here. I’ve got to get a hit or I’ve really got to get into this ball.’ Normally, that doesn’t work out, instead of taking the same approach, being relaxed and doing what you can do.”
MLB.com: Can a new hitting coach fix all that?
DH: “I think the guys have to fix it. And I think they’re on their way to, I really do. We had like 15 or 16 hard-hit balls today. We hit a lot of balls right at people. I think the line-drive rate was getting a little better. I think they were conscious of what they were doing. We met about it a couple of days ago, and I explained those facts as far as the fly-ball rates have gone up, the swing-and-miss rates go up at home versus the road, the exit velocity is down. We went over a lot of that information. So I think that got them thinking a little bit about it, not trying to do too much, trying to get singles up the middle, not trying to overswing, not trying to do too much. I was happy with — even though we didn’t score many runs today, we hit the ball hard today. I was happy with the at-bats. Duda, he made a couple of adjustments earlier in the day and I was happy with what he did, as far as staying in the middle of the field. He drove the one ball out of the ballpark. So even though we didn’t score many runs, I felt decent about what the guys were doing.”
MLB.com: So the firing must have taken you by surprise immediately after the game.
DH: Not really. Only when Terry came and got me and said Sandy wants to talk to me I go, ‘Oh I guess that’s it for me.’ [Laughing] Usually, that doesn’t happen.”
MLB.com: What did Sandy say to you?
DH: “He felt bad about it. He mentioned the home and the road splits were so different. We haven’t been able to fix that. Just that kind of thing. I’ve got a lot of respect for Sandy, so whatever Sandy wants to do, he’s going to try to get this thing going in the right direction. It’s just one of those things that happens in the game.”
MLB.com: You seem relatively upbeat about all of this.
DH: “I look it as I had a good opportunity, I did a good job and I made a lot of friends, a lot of great relationships. Every one of the players came and gave me a hug and said how sorry they were. I feel good about that. I feel good that I did everything I could possibly do. Whoever made the decision made the decision for whatever reason. I have no idea why that was made. I can’t tell you who made that decision.”
MLB.com: What’s next for you?
DH: “I’m going to see what’s going on for a while. I’m going to manage in Venezuela this winter again. I’ve got to get my knees fixed — my knees have been bothering me pretty badly the last few months, so I’ve got to do something about that. And then I’ll just see what happens, basically, see what goes on. I got a lot of texts from a lot of people in different organizations telling me to let the dust settle and see what happens here in the next few months, so we’ll see what happens. I’ve got a lot of friends. Maybe I’ll kick back here for a while and go see my kids for a little bit.”
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