Skaalen: Crew's plate discipline 'why I'm sitting here right now'
Jim Skaalen got off a good line while talking about his new job as the Oakland A’s hitting coach. The A’s are well-known for their focus on pitch selection and on-base percentage, qualities that often eluded Brewers hitters under Skaalen’s watch.
“All that stuff, believe it or not, was also stressed in Milwaukee,” Skaalen said Friday, before the Brewers and A’s squared off for the second time in three days. “It didn’t materialize as consistently as I liked, which is probably why I’m sitting here right now.”
He was sitting in Oakland’s dugout on Friday instead of Milwaukee’s mostly because of last September, when the Brewers slumped to a .227 team batting average and averaged 3.6 runs per game. In the first five months of the season, they batted .257 and averaged 4.8 runs per game.
“As disappointed and sad as I was to get the news [of his dismissal], I couldn’t be happier with the development and the progress of those guys over there,” Skaalen said. “The core of that team, I feel like I played some role in helping them get to where they are at. … I don’t know because I wasn’t told much, but I think that Doug [Melvin, Milwaukee's general manager] just felt the need for them to hear somebody new.”
Does he have answers for Milwaukee’s team-wide September swoon?
“I don’t even have an answer for it other than most of the players just had a tough time from keeping from doing too much,” Skaalen said. “They wanted to get there [to the postseason]. … It happens. Try as I might, those kids were in the cage and I’m trying to refocus their mindset, get them through the last month, it was just difficult. It’s easy in the cage, but when you’re playing big game after big game, that’s just human nature. Thank goodness for Prince [Fielder] and J.J. [Hardy] did OK, and thank goodness for CC [Sabathia] and the pitching staff.”