Struggling Cubs Make Coaching Change

Von Joshua is new hitting coach (STAFF PHOTO)

The Chicago Cubs offense this season has been a far cry from the unit that led the National League in runs scored in 2008, when they won 97 games and ran away with the Central Division by 7.5 games.

The Cubs entered Sunday's interleague game against Minnesota hitting .246 as a unit. That placed 13th among the 16 National League clubs and 26th among major league clubs overall.

Players that hit last year -- Geovany Soto, Alfonso Soriano -- have not been hitting this year. Until very recently, neither had first baseman Derrek Lee.

Players that were brought in over the off-season to give the Cubs a more left-handed friendly lineup -- Milton Bradley, Aaron Miles -- also have not been hitting.

So Cubs general manager Jim Hendry announced a change Sunday, firing Perry after two-plus years as manager Lou Piniella's hitting coach.

"Obviously, we've been struggling for a long time," Hendry told reporters Sunday. "I'm not one to dump all the blame on my coaches, but I think sometimes you need a different voice."

Hendry hopes he has found that voice in veteran hitting coach Von Joshua.

Joshua, 61, had served as the hitting coach at Iowa since 2006 and has been credited for his help with Cubs players Ryan Theriot, Micah Hoffpauir, and others. He has spent the last 26 years as a hitting coach, beginning in 1984 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Joshua was in Des Moines Sunday and will join the Cubs in Chicago Monday. The Cubs have the day off Monday and will host the White Sox for a three-game series beginning Tuesday. Ironically, the last time Joshua was a hitting coach in the major leagues was for the White Sox from 1998-2001 under Jerry Manuel.

"Days like today are never easy, but fortunately for us we have a guy like Von Joshua who can step in and be a positive influence with our hitters," said Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita.

Hendry said Sunday that the Cubs' struggles at the plate go beyond the absence of third baseman Aramis Ramirez, sidelined since May after dislocating his shoulder.

"Everyday we have five guys in the lineup that have been in the All-Star game," Hendry said. "For whatever reason, they're not performing anywhere close to where they've performed in their careers."

Joshua told the Des Moines Register that he received a call from Hendry a few hours before Iowa's scheduled game against Omaha Sunday asking if he would be interested in being the Cubs' hitting coach.

Joshua accepted.

"I feel confident in my ability," Joshua told the paper, adding, "the big thing for me is to try to get those guys to relax a little. It seems there's a lot of tension; a lot of guys are pressing."

The Cubs (30-30) rallied for a 3-2 win over the Twins Sunday, as Theriot drove in Lee with a bases-loaded, walk-off single in the ninth inning.

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