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Sources: Mets could look to Kevin Long to fill hitting coach vacancy

Yankees batting coach Kevin Long at spring training

Yankees batting coach Kevin Long at spring training on Feb. 27, 2012. Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

While the Mets intend to launch a comprehensive search for their next hitting coach, a potential solution might be just a borough away.

According to multiple sources, it's possible the Mets will reach out to Kevin Long, who is available after his recent firing by the Yankees.

The Mets have yet to bring in any candidates for the position and are not expected to for another couple of weeks, as the search process remains in the early stages. A source said the team plans for it to be "exhaustive," and another official called Long "a good name" to be considered for the job.

Both cautioned that the Mets will cast a wide net to fill a critical position on the coaching staff.

"I'm getting a lot of calls from teams," Long told Newsday, though he didn't go into more detail. "And we'll weigh all offers and make a decision at my family's time."

Long's overall philosophy might make him a logical fit with the Mets. He has taught a disciplined hitting approach that is favored by general manager Sandy Alderson. He also has a history of working with Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson during his time with the Yankees.

Long, 47, was dismissed Friday after coaching a Yankees offense that scuffled. But before that, he received rave reviews for his work with the likes of Granderson.

Desperate to get on track in his first year with the Yankees, Granderson embarked on in-season swing changes with Long late in 2010. With a foundation established, Granderson went on to breakout seasons in 2011 and 2012, hitting 84 homers in that span before injuries curtailed his playing time in 2013.

Still, intrigued by his power potential, the Mets signed Granderson to a four-year, $60-million deal last offseason. In his first year in Queens, he hit .227 with 20 homers, battling through wild swings in production.

Reuniting with Long could jump-start Granderson. On occasion, as he tried to find his footing with the Mets, Granderson used hitting drills that he learned under Long.

Under Alderson, the Mets have implemented a strict hitting approach throughout the organization, one that places emphasis on pitch selection and discipline. The hope is that swinging at better pitches will translate into more extra-base hits. A side effect of the approach is more walks.

Long has experience trying to enforce a similar system while coaching in the minor leagues with the Yankees. He posted scoresheets tracking hitters' walk rates and chase rates, and made the information available throughout the organization.

"You can't just say, 'Well, he's doing a pretty good job with his strike zone discipline,' " Long said last season as he discussed his own approach to teaching hitting. "Well, what's 'a really good job'? He's either swinging at strikes or he's not. And you've got to define that and you've got to have a chart that monitors it, and really, that's the only way you can do it.''

The Mets will be hiring their third hitting coach in the last year.

The vacancy was first created in May when the Mets dumped Dave Hudgens, a trusted Alderson lieutenant dating to their days with the Oakland A's.

The Mets promoted Lamar Johnson from minor-league hitting coordinator. But when the offense showed no improvement, Johnson was re-assigned to his old job at season's end.

The Mets' offense finished in the middle of the pack of the 15-team National League. They ranked eighth in runs per game (3.88), 10th in homers (125), 13th in average (.239), ninth in on-base percentage (.308) and 12th in slugging (.364).


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