The Phillies announced on Wednesday the hiring of Kevin Long as their next hitting coach. Long worked with Phillies manager Joe Girardi with the Yankees from 2008-14, and with Bryce Harper on the Nationals in 2018. Long won a World Series with the 2009 Yankees and the 2019 Nationals.
“I have had a long-standing relationship with Kevin and have seen his work up close and in person for years,” said Girardi in a statement. “I truly believe he is the best in the business and will have a huge impact on our offense.”
The Phillies fired hitting coach Joe Dillon on the final day of the 2021 regular season, and Harper said the organization needed to find a good replacement.
“He needs to be at the top,” Harper said. “He needs to be the best hitting coach out there, whatever that may be.”
Long is expected to hire his own assistant hitting coach, which is why assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero is not expected to return.
The Phillies this past season ranked seventh in the National League in runs per game (4.53) and on-base percentage (.318); eighth in slugging percentage (.408) and ninth in batting average (.240). Ironically, Harper could win the National League Most Valuable Player Award with Dillon to thank as his hitting coach.
But Harper also acknowledged some of the club’s offensive shortcomings.
“I just really think as a whole we need to be better,” Harper said on Oct. 3. “Situational hitting. Hitting with two outs. Guys coming in; we’re going to face tough pitching in the East, that’s what’s going to happen all year long next year. We need to be ready for that — 1 through 9 in our whole lineup, no matter what. Just as a whole we need to get better.”
Girardi and Long actually reconnected in June, when Nationals coaches at Citizens Bank Park, including Long, got into it with Girardi for asking umpires to check Max Scherzer’s hair for foreign substances.
NBC Sports Philadelphia reported that the Phillies could bring back former infield coach Bobby Dickerson, who spent the past two seasons as San Diego’s bench coach. The Phillies fired infield coach Juan Castro on the final day of the season.