Murray's tenure as hitting coach ends
Minor League coordinator Shelton promoted in interim
CHICAGO -- Eddie Murray was a Hall of Fame hitter, but what Murray couldn't do enough of as a hitting coach was teach others to hit.
In the end, that cost him his job. Manager Eric Wedge and general manager Mark Shapiro announced Murray's firing after the Tribe's 6-5 loss Saturday to the White Sox. Minor League hitting coordinator Derek Shelton will handle Murray's duties until season's end.
"We felt this was the best decision for our organization, philosophically, going forward," Shapiro said.
Wedge echoed Shapiro's view.
"There's a point in time when you have to make a tough decision," Wedge said. "And this was one of 'em."
Neither Wedge nor Shapiro offered a harsh criticism of Murray's work as a hitting coach. Nor did they point to one specific incident that was the turning point in his tenure with the club.
Wedge said no players had come to him and voiced displeasure with Murray's coaching. He said he came to the decision after much soul searching.
"We obviously have a tremendous amount of respect for what Eddie has accomplished in the game," Wedge said. "But from an operations standpoint, we just felt like this was the best for our ballclub."
Murray, 49, was in his fourth season as hitting coach for the Indians. Before joining the organization in 2001, he'd been a coach with the Orioles, a team where he'd built most of his Hall of Fame credentials as a player.
What Murray wasn't, however, was a great communicator. He was perceived by some as standoffish, but he mostly had been ineffective this season in turning the Indians into an offensive force.
They had finished the 2004 having as the fifth-best offense in baseball. They scored 858 runs last season, but they had yet to show that kind of firepower in '05. The Tribe was last or near the bottom of the American League in every significant offensive statistical category.
Both Wedge and Shapiro had called the offense their biggest disappointment this season. Wedge said the decision to fire Murray was not just about the present.
"I've got a tremendous amount of respect for Eddie," Wedge said. "I just felt like this was what was best for our ballclub now and on into the future. It's not about anything just today or the last couple of weeks.
"It's more of a long-term decision."
Murray's firing created the second opening this week in Wedge's coaching staff. On Tuesday, he lost bench coach Buddy Bell, who accepted the manager's job with the Royals.
The Tribe filled Bell's job earlier Saturday with Robby Thompson, a former Major League infielder who had been a part-time coach in the organization. Thompson will assume bench coach duties June 10 in San Francisco.
Wedge will fill Murray's job with Shelton, for now. Shelton will serve out the season, but Wedge wasn't sure if he would remain in the position at season's end.
Wedge made it clear that he was looking for better production.
"From an offensive standpoint, I feel we can do better," he said. "But it's not just about Eddie Murray. I felt like we needed to make a change."
Murray was unavailable for comment. But Wedge said he handled his dismissal like "a pro."
Justice B. Hill is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.