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New York Yankees Let Hitting Coach Go

October 29, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) _ New York Yankees hitting coach Rick Down will not be back next season, the Daily News reported Wednesday.

The move was expected, the first step in what figures to be a wild offseason for the Yankees.

With club officials in Tampa, Fla., this week for meetings with owner George Steinbrenner, Down was told by phone Tuesday that the team will not renew his contract, the newspaper said.

New York struggled at the plate during key moments in the World Series and lost to the Florida Marlins in six games, certainly a big reason Down is out.

``I think we all knew it was coming,″ he told the New York newspaper. ``Whether they wanted to keep me or not is not up to me. Change of face is the reason given to me. They wanted somebody new to come in.

``I guess I wore out my welcome.″

New York batted .140 (7-for-50) with runners in scoring position during the World Series, though captain Derek Jeter said that’s not Down’s fault.

``Rick Down is not in the box with us. Rick works hard,″ Jeter said Monday at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees ranked third in the American League in runs (877) this season and fourth in slugging percentage (.453).

Down is the third batting instructor the Yankees have let go in the last four years, including Gary Denbo and Chris Chambliss.

And there will probably be more changes to manager Joe Torre’s coaching staff. Bench coach Don Zimmer has said several times he won’t be back, citing Steinbrenner as the reason, and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre isn’t sure if he wants to return.

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