Thursday, December 03, 2015

Welcome to the Blue, Turner Ward!

With Mark McGwire moving down to the southern pastures of San Diego the Dodgers found themselves in need of a new hitting coach. Apparently, they have located their man.  Via a tweet from Buster Olney and an article by OC Register report Bill Plunkett, Turner Ward will now man the position. 
Ward was an twelve-year Major League veteran outfielder, the most recent hitting coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks and an inductee to the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame in Alabama.  He began his post playing career as a manager for an Pirates Class-A team.  Then, he managed the Mobile BayBears, the Diamondbacks Double-A club, in 2011 and eventually earned Southern League Manager of the Year honors.  In 2013 he became Arizona's assistant hitting coach and quickly transitioned to the head hitting coach position the following year.  In his second season as the Diamondback's hitting coach (2015) the team ranked second in runs and slugging percentage, third in batting average, on-base percentage and OPS.

He was only made available due to what appears to be an contract dispute with the club.  Via Craig Calcaterra at NBC Sports:
Ward was the Dbacks’ hitting coach for three years but left last month after a disagreement over the contract the club tendered him for 2016. Some have reported that Ward was lowballed by the Dbacks on his renewal.
Those of you with long memories will remember Ward as the fellow who got into a bit of a scrap with Dodger reliever JP Howell during a melee in 2013.  Zack Greinke had gotten hit with a pitch by Ian Kennedy, benches cleared and a raucous brawl ensued.  At one point, JP Howell and Turner Ward faced-off; with Ward getting the worst of it.  Howell was throwing right-handed upper-cut blows to Ward's midsection and eventually bent him over a railing.  Watch it below.
Yeah, that was one vicious scrap.  For his part in it he was ejected from the game, but not suspended.

In celebration of his hiring I made the above two fantasy cards of him.  On the left, the photograph by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports and I used the 1986 Topps Baseball card design.  On the right, the photograph is by 2015 USA TODAY Sports Images and I used the 2015 Topps Baseball card design. 

Below are his career statistics as a player, via Baseball-Reference:

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