White Sox looking for hitting coach
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White Sox player Frank Thomas waves to fans on Aug. 29, 2010. the day his No. 35 was retired by the team.
Thanks to a 99-loss season, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has a massive amount of work to do.
Hahn has to determine whether the Sox want Paul Konerko back for one more year, assuming the longtime captain wants to play one more year.
Decisions also need to be made at catcher, third base, shortstop and center field, and the White Sox have to determine if free-agent Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu is worth pursuing.
Before any personnel decisions are made, look for Hahn and his staff to name a new hitting coach to replace Jeff Manto, who was fired with two games left on the 2013 schedule.
Here is what Hahn said about the search when Manto was relieved of his duties on Sept. 28: "As I sit here right now, I think the ideal candidate will very likely have experience in the position of hitting coach at some level, at the major-league or minor-league level.
"We have a fair amount of work ahead of us this off-season, so ideally this doesn't linger too long. It conceivably could take until November; it could be sooner than that."
Hahn declined to comment on any specific candidate, so we'll take a crack at some likely options:
He was fired as Philadelphia's manager on Aug. 16, and there has been speculation the 69-year-old Manuel is mulling an offer to return to the Phillies in an "advisory role."
Manuel first made a name for himself when he was Cleveland's hitting coach from 1994-99; the Indians scored a major-league record 1,009 runs in '99. By comparison, the White Sox finished last in the American League this season with 598 runs scored.
Jim Thome, now working as Hahn's special assistant, has been very close with Manuel dating to their days in Cleveland. If Manuel turns down the Phillies' offer but wants to stay in the game, he'd be a great fit as Sox hitting coach.
When he joined the White Sox as Hahn's special assistant on July 2, Thome was immediately viewed as Manto's likely successor.
Thome hit 612 home runs, which ranks seventh all time, and has a career .276/.402/.554 hitting line. While he eventually might take over as the Sox' hitting coach, Thome apparently wants to spend more time with his family after playing 22 major-league seasons.
Like Thome, Thomas was one of the best hitters of his generation, and he is the White Sox' all-time leader in numerous offensive categories, including home runs (448), doubles (447), RBI (1,465) and walks (1,466).
Given Hahn's preference for experience at the major- or minor-league level, Thomas doesn't seem to qualify for the job.
He's a friend of White Sox manager Robin Ventura, and "Wally World" is available after resigning as Phillies assistant hitting coach last week.
Joyner got rave reviews from Philadelphia hitters such as Domonic Brown, but he reportedly wants to work as the main hitting coach for a major-league team.
He was widely considered baseball's best hitting coach during his 1995-2009 run with the Texas Rangers, but Jaramillo wasn't able to work the same magic with the Cubs from 2010 until he was fired in June 2012.
Jaramillo has been running a hitting school in the Dallas area since exiting the North Side. He's interested in the Sox' job but might have dropped to afterthought status.
If the name sounds familiar, it should.
Ward was the Sox' hitting coach from 2001-03, and he helped Class AA Birmingham win the Southern League championship this season. The Barons led the league in runs scored and on-base percentage, and Ward worked with promising hitters such as Marcus Semien, Trayce Thompson and Dan Black.
Ward is a gruff, no-nonsense hitting coach, which might be appealing to Hahn and the White Sox.
The Fremd High School graduate has been with the White Sox for more than 25 years, and former manager Ozzie Guillen would have hired Gellinger as bench coach before the 2011 season had Joey Cora been hired as Milwaukee's manager.
Gellinger assisted former Sox hitting coach Greg Walker and was well respected. He managed Advanced Rookie Bristol this season.
•Follow Scot's White Sox and baseball reports on Twitter@scotgregor, and check out his Chicago's Inside Pitch blog at dailyherald.com.
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