A's will not renew Hudgens' contract

A's will not renew Hudgens' contract

The A's announced Monday that the contract of hitting coach Dave Hudgens will not be renewed for 2006, and while the team's press release said Hudgens will be "given the opportunity to remain with the organization," the move effectively ends a 23-year relationship between the club and coach.

"It'd be really hard to go back," Hudgens told MLB.com by phone Monday night while driving from Oakland to Southern California. "This isn't sitting too well with me right now."

Hudgens said he met Monday morning with general manager Billy Beane, who informed him of the decision.

"Billy had his perception of the job I did, and I disagreed with his perception," Hudgens said. "It wasn't a very happy meeting. Obviously."

Beane and A's manager Ken Macha did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment. According to Hudgens, Beane didn't speak with any of the players about the move, either.

"I think that's probably what bothers me the most," Hudgens said. "I asked him if he'd talked to [Eric] Chavez or [Mark] Ellis or [Nick] Swisher, or [Jason] Kendall or [Mark] Kotsay] or any of the guys. He said he didn't need to talk to them."

Also reached by phone, Swisher hadn't yet heard the news and called it "a huge shock."

"Man, that's a stunner right there," Swisher said. "Hudge was like the perfect coach, if you ask me. Anything you ever needed -- whether it was time, advice, extra work in the cage, whatever -- he was there. And he was there for everybody. Some guys might just be there for the stars, but here I am, a rookie, and he was first-class with me all the way."

Hudgens said much of Beane's criticism centered around the A's struggles with situational hitting. Oakland ranked sixth in the AL (out of 14 teams) in runs scored (772), and tied for fifth in batting with runners in scoring position (.273).

"Heck, you can't take a coach into the [batter's] box with you," Swisher said.

Said Hudgens: "Because we didn't have much power, we had the kind of lineup where everybody needed to be on to score runs. We were the type of offense than needed 15 hits to score eight runs. I guess that's supposed to be my fault."

Hudgens spent 16 seasons in the A's organization, including four as hitting coach. He first served as A's hitting coach in 1999 and returned on May 31, 2003, replacing Thad Bosley. Hudgens also has served as the club's assistant director of player development from 1996-98 and 2000-03, managed for four seasons in the A's farm system at Pocatello in 1985 and Medford from 1986-88, and played two years in the A's organization in 1982 and 1983, including a seven-game stint at the Major League level in 1983.

"It's a shame it has to end on such a sour note like this," Hudgens said. "But as far as the players and coaches, I have nothing but great things to say about them. I wish them all the best."

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.