The question has to be asked; Did Milt Thompson suddenly become a bad hitting coach after three seasons of unquestioned offensive firepower from his hitters in Philadelphia?
The odds of that aren’t very likely. Thompson is likely the same hitting coach that he was when the Phillies hired him back in 2005. The Phillies as a team were pounding the ball and led the National League in scoring in 2006, 2007, were second in 2008 and returned to the top spot in 2009, only to fall to 12th at this point in the 2010 season. And keep in mind, there weren’t any big personnel changes coming into this season, although injuries did hurt the Phillies lineup.
Oddly enough, perhaps the fact that Thompson had endured so long with these hitters is exactly the reason that the Phillies let him go. Thompson was told that the club wanted a new voice who might be able to get through to some of the team’s hitters. That new voice will be Greg Gross.
Gross has served as the hitting coach at Triple-A Lehigh Valley since the club’s inception in 2008 and a number of hitters who have come through Lehigh Valley have talked glowingly about the help that Gross has given them. Earlier this season, John Mayberry Jr. said that Gross had helped him immensely.
“He [Gross] has always been there and he can always spot what I’m doing wrong,” said Mayberry. “I like working with him, he’s got a good approach to the game.”
Gross, 57, was the Phillies’ bench coach in 2001 for manager Larry Bowa and then served as hitting coach from 2002-04 before joining the Phillies’ player development staff in 2005. Gross played 17 seasons in the Major Leagues, including ten with the Phillies (1979-88) and played a key role in Philadelphia’s first World Championship in 1980.
As for Lehigh Valley, their hitting coach position will be filled by various coordinators from within their minor league system for the remainder of the season.