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More Changes Made by Dodgers

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The rapid-fire change that has marked the Dodgers’ disappointing season continued Wednesday night when new Manager Glenn Hoffman made several changes in his coaching staff.

Hoffman dramatically reconfigured the on-field management team he inherited Monday from fired manager Bill Russell when he replaced three-fifths of his coaching staff after the Dodgers’ interleague game with the Angels at Dodger Stadium, the third of four between the teams this season.

The Dodgers beat the Angels, 6-5, on Trenidad Hubbard’s one-out, run-scoring single in the the 11th inning before 46,822 that ended a losing streak at four games. The Angels forced extra innings when Matt Walbeck singled home pinch-runner Damon Mashore with one out in the eighth.

Gary Sheffield hit a three-run home run--his 12th home run--in the third to give the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Raul Mondesi hit a two-out solo home run, his 17th homer, in the fifth to give the Dodgers a 5-2 lead.

Batting instructor Reggie Smith, pitching coach Glenn Gregson and bullpen coach Mark Cresse were removed from their positions and succeeded by Mickey Hatcher, Charlie Hough and John Shelby, respectively. The new coaches are former Dodger players who were working within the organization.

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The moves were made by Hoffman with the approval of interim general manager Tom Lasorda, who succeeded former executive vice president Fred Claire on the same day Hoffman assumed his position. Smith, Gregson and Cresse, whose son, Brad, is Lasorda’s godson, were offered new positions in the Dodgers’ minor league system.

“We’re just trying to find the right combinations to help this team get back on the right track,” Hoffman said. “I don’t have a magic wand to wave over everything to make it work, it’s just going to take everyone working hard and believing in what we’re trying to do.

“Everyone has to be evaluated, the players, the coaching staff--everyone. We need to find what will help us win games. It’s as simple as that.”

Cresse, Smith and Gregson were sent packing by Hoffman only three days after Claire and Russell were terminated because the Dodgers have failed to meet expectations in their first year under the Fox Group.

“I told Glenn that he’s the manager of the team,” Lasorda said, “and whatever changes he wants to make are fine with me.”

Team President and CEO Bob Graziano said Monday that no one’s job in the organization is safe, and the three former coaches were the latest longtime Dodger employees to be dumped in what sources say will be a lengthy and painful process for many.

“We’re trying to move forward, and part of that process is an ongoing evaluation of personnel,” Graziano said Monday. “Change is something that’s necessary at this point to help the team move forward and reach its potential as we move on in the season.”

Hatcher was the manager for the past three seasons at Class-A San Bernardino and is considered a rising star in the Dodgers’ system. Hough was Hatcher’s pitching coach at San Bernardino, and Shelby was formerly a coach at Vero Beach.

Hatcher and Shelby were key members of the Dodgers’ 1988 World Series championship team that defeated the Oakland Athletics, and Hough was a successful Dodger starting pitcher during the 1970s and ‘80s.

Hatcher was among the ’88 team’s inspirational leaders, and Lasorda credited his spirited performance with helping the Dodgers to overcome the Athletics, who many expected to overpower the overachieving Dodgers.

Smith was in his fifth season as the Dodger batting instructor and first base coach. Smith, who has served as the Dodgers’ minor league field coordinator from 1992-93, missed the remainder of the 1997 season after undergoing surgery July 14 to remove a disk in his neck.

Under his guidance, the Dodgers were 13th in the National League in batting this season with a .252 average entering Monday’s game. Despite a lineup club officials expected to be among the league’s best, the team has failed to produce runs consistently.

The once-formidable Dodger pitching staff faltered under Gregson, a first-year major league coach.

Several Dodger players said the pitchers didn’t respond to the style of the typically upbeat Gregson, who replaced popular pitching coach Dave Wallace in the off-season when Wallace accepted a front-office position with the New York Mets. The Dodgers finished first or second in the major leagues in earned-run average the previous three seasons with Wallace running the staff.

This season, the Dodgers were seventh in the National League with a 3.98 ERA.


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