TORONTO (AP) -Mickey Brantley's contract as hitting coach of the Toronto Blue Jays won't be renewed following a season in which the team hit .259, the third-lowest batting average in the AL.
``I'm disappointed because he's one of my top friends but that's the way the game is,'' manager John Gibbons said.
Brantley was hired as Toronto's first-base coach in 2005, then took over as hitting coach from Mike Barnett.
Loaded with sluggers such as Troy Glaus, Frank Thomas and Vernon Wells, the Blue Jays expected their offense to carry the team in 2007. Instead, injuries and ineffectiveness hobbled Toronto, resulting in a third-place finish in the AL East.
``We've got to be better at our situational hitting, we've got to be better at hitting with runners in scoring position and we have to be better at being more selective at the plate,'' general manager J.P. Ricciardi said.
Gibbons said Toronto's predominantly right-handed lineup had been too pull-conscious this season, leaving them susceptible to off-speed pitches from right-handed pitchers.
``We struggled with that,'' he said. ``Those guys cut us up this year.''
Third-base coach Brian Butterfield will move to bench coach next year, first-base coach Marty Pevey will shift to third and bench coach Ernie Whitt will move to first.
Ricciardi said he made the move because Gibbons and Butterfield are ``really close.''
``In the heat of battle, you want someone beside you that you feel 100 percent comfortable with,'' Ricciardi said. ``This is a better fit.''
Butterfield was rewarded for his strong work with Toronto's infielders.
``He's probably the most thorough guy in baseball,'' Gibbons said.
Toronto had two lineup card gaffes this season. Royce Clayton took the field for a July 27 game at Chicago, even though John McDonald was listed on the lineup card. On Sept. 1, Lyle Overbay and Aaron Hill batted out of turn against Seattle. Hill was called out after hitting a one-out double.
``I just want to win,'' Whitt said. ``If they feel the move is going to help the team to win, so be it.''
Pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, bullpen coach Bruce Walton and bullpen catcher Alex Andreopolous all will return in 2008.

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