Coles leaves Tigers to be Crew's head hitting coach

Coles leaves Tigers to be Crew's head hitting coach

DETROIT -- The Tigers made no changes on manager Brad Ausmus' coaching staff after the season, but they're going to need a new assistant hitting coach. Darnell Coles, who made a good impression in that position, was hired by the Brewers on Thursday to be their head hitting coach.

"It's tough leaving a great organization like the Tigers," Coles said. "I was content and loved my job working with some of the best hitters in baseball -- in Miguel Cabrera's case, the best hitter in baseball. It was a great experience. It's sad to leave, but you get an opportunity to get one of 30 jobs in the game, and a great group of hitters."

For Coles, it's a return to the organization from which the Tigers hired him. He spent four years working in the Brewers' farm system, including serving as manager at Double-A Huntsville in 2012 and '13 after he spent two years as the organization's Minor League hitting coordinator. Coles had just been promoted to manage at Triple-A Nashville when Ausmus and the Tigers came calling.

The Tigers offered Coles his first shot at coaching in the big leagues, and he was superb at it. While the Tigers led the Majors in batting average and RBIs, topped the American League in OPS and finished second in the big leagues in runs scored, Coles provided a boundless amount of positive energy and a steady source of constructive critiques in support of primary hitting coach Wally Joyner.

"You watch how those guys work and prepare, and you get an understanding how those guys are as good as they are," Coles said. "It's a great group of hitters, a great group of guys, and you take that knowledge with you as you move on."

Yet coaching Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler and Torii Hunter was a smaller part of the job. What filled out the Tigers lineup was the spark from J.D. Martinez, who went from Spring Training casualty in Astros camp to All-Star caliber run producer in Detroit.

"Darnell did a great job in working with Wally and our hitters," Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "Knowledgeable and hard working, he is ready to become the main hitting coach for a Major League team."

What made Coles such a fit in Detroit, Ausmus said, was "great energy" and being "detail oriented."

Ausmus said they'll look both internally and outside the organization for a replacement. Longtime Mud Hens hitting coach Leon Durham would be a logical choice if the team opts to promote from within. So, too, could Bruce Fields, Detroit's hitting coach from 2003-05 who is currently the organization's Minor League hitting coordinator.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.