Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant and former hitting coach Chili Davis might not have seen eye-to-eye on the best way to approach hitting. But Bryant and Anthony Rizzo didn’t try to get him fired, Bryant said Friday.
That contradicts a report out of New York that cited unnamed sources saying Cubs team president Theo Epstein didn’t want to fire Davis but caved to the wishes of “at least a few of his star hitters,” including Bryant and Rizzo.
“I don’t make the decisions at all,” Bryant said, “and I can tell you it’s not just because of me and Anthony. I think Chili was a great guy, fun to talk to. But I just think that some of our hitting philosophies didn’t match up, and that’s OK.”
Bryant and team officials didn’t deny that Davis, who has since been hired as the Mets’ hitting coach, didn’t mesh with some of the Cubs’ younger hitters. Davis told the Sun-Times after he was fired in October, “I guess I need to make some adjustments in the way I deliver my message to the millennial players now.”
On Friday, Epstein called Davis’ firing “an organizational decision.”
“And I really respect Chili as a hitting coach,” he said. “But given the totality of the circumstances, it was the right thing to move on and bring in Anthony Iapoce. Our players, including Anthony and Kris, were full of appreciation for how hard Chili worked, how dedicated he was. This was not their decision whatsoever — it was ours and mine.”
Bryant raved about the idea of working again with Iapoce, a minor-league hitting coach for the Cubs when Bryant was in the minors.
“I loved him,” Bryant said. “I’m really, really, really excited about ’Poce. There’s just something about him. There’s a good energy. He’s just one of the most positive guys that I’ve been around. He’s someone you want in the clubhouse. I can’t wait for the season to start with him.”
“It just didn’t work out for us,” said Bryant, who acknowledged that Davis’ older-school, line-drive, all-fields approach conflicted with the launch-angle philosophy that many of today’s hitters were taught. “And there’s nothing wrong with that at all. I love Chili. He’s a great person. Our hitting philosophies didn’t mesh.”