Nationals relieve Rick Eckstein of duties, name Rick Schu new hitting coach

The Washington Nationals today relieved Rick Eckstein of his duties and promoted Rick Schu to hitting coach. Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Schu joins Davey Johnson’s staff after spending the last four seasons as Nationals minor-league hitting coordinator. Schu’s resume includes 16 seasons as a hitting coach and a nine-year big league career.

In Washington, Schu has pre-existing relationships with Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Steve Lombardozzi and Roger Bernadina. He will also draw on relationships with Chad Tracy and Scott Hairston gained during their days together with the Diamondbacks. Schu has also worked closely with numerous other Nationals hitters during the last four spring trainings.

He began his coaching career in Arizona’s system in 1998 and spent portions of four seasons (2004, ‘07-09) as Diamondbacks hitting coach. While working for the Diamondbacks, Schu tutored, among others, Justin Upton, Carlos Gonzalez, Miguel Montero, Dan Uggla, Carlos Quentin and Stephen Drew.

Schu batted .246 with 67 doubles, 41 home runs and 134 RBI in 580 big league contests with the Phillies, Orioles, Tigers, Angels and Expos (1996). Despite signing as a non-drafted free agent, Schu eventually rose through the Phillies’ system and assumed the third-base job when Hall-of-Famer Mike Schmidt shifted across the diamond to first base in 1985

Eckstein was named Nationals hitting coach on October 24, 2008. He was the longest tenured hitting coach in the National League East