Nats’ Eckstein remains silent with media

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has instructed hitting coach Rick Eckstein not to talk to the media.

In the last week, members of the Washington media have attempted to talk to Eckstein about the team’s problems at the plate, but they have been turned down. Entering Friday’s action, the team is hitting .229, which ranks 29th in the Major Leagues.

According to people with knowledge of the situation, the reason for Eckstein’s silence is because Rizzo doesn’t want Eckstein to blame himself for the problems at the plate. Rizzo is one of Eckstein’s biggest supporters.

Rizzo also believes members of the media would not talk to Eckstein if the team was hitting well at the plate. Instead, they would talk only to the players.

Eckstein is considered one of the hardest working coaches in baseball. In fact, outfielder Jayson Werth said recently, “Ecky sleeps and drinks baseball.”

Before going on the disabled list because of a shoulder injury, first baseman Adam LaRoche said the team’s hitting woes were not Eckstein’s fault.

“It’s not easy for him at all. It might be harder on him than it is an individual hitter,” LaRoche said. “The entire team feels responsible. He has done everything he could possibility do to get guys on track. He spends more time watching video. He goes in the batter’s box to just to mimic player’s swings just to get a feeling in the batter’s box.”

It’s not known how long Eckstein will remain silent. Calls to Rizzo were not returned and Eckstein was not available for comment.

Eckstein has been Washington’s hitting coach since 2009. That year, Washington was tied for sixth in the National League with a .258 batting average.

Last year, the Nationals were tied for ninth in the NL with a .250 batting average.


All of the players are working hard on improving their hitting. They seem to be getting the right information. I’m sure the payoff is coming. Two strike hitting needs to improve. With two strikes, short stroke, all fields, put the bat on the ball, lower the # of strike outs, protect the plate. Eckstein doesn’t need to talk to anyone but the hitters.

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I am not as big a fan of Rick Eckstein as Rizzo evidently is. I am a BIG fan of Mike Rizzo, however, so I’m a bit conflicted on this point.

I think that Eckstein has a “proof o’ the puddin'” problem in that so many Nats are in career slumps, and whatever Eckstein seems to be doing doesn’t seem to be helping much. I’m not there so I really can’t comment on what kind of advice he’s giving them, but it appears that first and foremost our players are not recognizing the pitches out of the opposing pitchers’ hands and are not looking the ball onto the bat — little league stuff.

And our batters seem to be guessing too much instead of standing at the plate, watching the pitch, and just trying to hit it. Thinking and batting simply don’t mix — NOBODY thinks fast enough, so they shouldn’t try.

Just watch the pitcher, watch the ball, and try to hit it. If you’re hitting too many grounders, move your hands a sixteenth of an inch lower on the bat (or get bat that’s a few molecules longer or weighted a bit more toward the barrel). If you’re constantly popping up, choke up an eighth of an inch or so. That always straightened me out.

Those were some very insightful tips you gave to actual Major League ball players. Im sure they havent heard of or tried any of those suggestions before! Im sorry I didnt catch what major league team you played on or coached for???

Maybe the Nats do not have enough major league hitters?

I do not know what the deal is with Ekstein. Maybe Rizzo lost a huge election bet with him and he cannot afford to pay him.
I agree with Pingback in that I generally applaud what Rizzo is doing. However he does have a weakness in that he is too protective of those he hires (perhaps too much emotional capital invested) in spite of the results that are produced. I think that is the case with Ekstein. John Thompson, the Hall of Fame basketball coach stated that he and his coaches were never paid for trying hard or working hard, but strictly on the results they produced. That rule, despite what Phil Wood seems to think, does not change from sport to sport. Errors in Eksteins approach were revealed by Ray Knight in an interview he gave to Wood after Saturday’s game, although I am sure Knight did not intend his comments to seem that way. Nonetheless, the Nats lead the league in strike outs violating Ted Williams first rule of hitting: Get a good ball to hit! Just one example of simple things that any really good hitting coach would know or you would think he would know. Of course, any Jackass can criticize. My suggestion is to re-hire Frank Robinson as a hitting consultant. None of the teams he managed or coached ever had as low a team batting average as the Nats do, presently, under Ekstein. Failing that pull Ray Knight from the television booth and let him take a stab at it. Let Ekstein take calls with Phil Wood since they are apparantly such good buddy’s.

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