Sports

Veteran coach Jaramillo parts ways with Rangers

The Texas Rangers will emphasize situational hitting over slugging next season. That new approach will come from a new hitting coach, too.

Rudy Jaramillo turned down a one-year deal Wednesday, ending a 15-year run during which the Rangers were among the most feared lineups in baseball and players routinely credited him for their success.

Jaramillo said his departure has nothing to do with the team’s shift in philosophy. It’s about the uncertainty that comes with the club being for sale and, at 59, wondering what it’s like to be a free agent.

“It’s just time for me to do right now,” Jaramillo said. “I just felt I needed to try to get some security.”

Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez and Alex Rodriguez won MVP awards under Jaramillo’s tutelage. Texas hitters won three home run titles, two RBI crowns and a batting championship, and the team consistently ranked near the top in power numbers and runs.

However, the Rangers made the playoffs only three times during his tenure, most recently in 1999, and have never won a postseason series. They mounted a surprising challenge this season, lasting until the final month.

The bigger surprise was that pitching and defense led the way – and that the offense lagged, slowed by Josh Hamilton being hurt most of the season and Michael Young being hurt down the stretch.

Texas hit .260 last season, 11th in the AL, but was second in homers. The Rangers were middle of the pack in runs and RBI.

Jaramillo is a Dallas native. He previously worked for the Astros, helping Jeff Bagwell blossom into a dominant hitter. He said he’s leaving the organization on good terms, feeling “blessed to be here all this time” and that he hasn’t heard from any teams yet.

“Nobody thought I’d leave here,” he said. “I’m ready. I feel good about the decision. I’m going to miss all those kids. They’re great, all the Ranger people.”

LaPorta has two surgeries

Cleveland outfielder Matt LaPorta, the Indians’ key acquisition in the deal that sent CC Sabathia to Milwaukee in 2008, has undergone two surgeries – one on his left hip and the other to fix an injured toe.

LaPorta had the operations on Tuesday in Colorado. The hip surgery was done to repair an impingement in his joint. LaPorta was bothered by soreness in his hip in the final two weeks of the season.

LaPorta hurt his left big toe while running down a fly ball during the Indians’ season finale against the Boston Red Sox.

The team said he will need 4 to 6 months to recover. The Indians hope LaPorta will be ready for the start of the 2010 season.

Astros interview two

Dave Clark, who took over the Houston Astros after Cecil Cooper was fired on Sept. 21, was interviewed by the Astros as they search for a full-time skipper.

Clark, 47, was the Astros’ third-base coach in 2009 before becoming interim manager. He met with the team’s brass for about two hours Wednesday.

General manager Ed Wade said Clark has been guaranteed a spot on next year’s staff, even if he’s not hired as a manager.

Another Astros coach, 49-year-old Al Pedrique, also met with the team Wednesday. He was the minor-league coordinator and was promoted to third-base coach when Clark replaced Cooper.

Short hops

New YorkMets shortstop Jose Reyes will undergo surgery on his injured right leg today in Dallas. He is scheduled for a cleanup of some scar tissue remaining from a torn hamstring tendon behind his right knee. The Mets have said Reyes, who played only 36 games this season, will not need an operation to repair his torn right hamstring. … The San Francisco Giants will not renew hitting coach Carney Lansford’s contract after scoring the fifth fewest runs in the majors this season. … Boston pitching coach John Farrell tells The Cleveland Plain Dealer for a story on its Web site that he feels he has to fulfill his commitment to the Red Sox and is no longer a candidate for the Indians’ manager job.

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