TORONTO -- The Blue Jays didn't need controversy after winning their second straight World Series, but they may have one. Batting coach Larry Hisle admitted he was shocked by a report he wouldn't be invited back next season.
Even more shocking, perhaps, was the fact that manager Cito Gaston did nothing to dispel the rumor that Hisle wouldn't return. "We haven't talked about it," said Gaston. "We don't talk about rehirings until after the season.
"If he wants to come back, we'll certainly talk about it. I don't have any problems with Larry coming back, unless there are other people who might," said Gaston.
Reportedly former Blue Jays first baseman Willie Upshaw, the hitting coach for the Texas Rangers last year, will replace Hisle. The baffling thing about the apparent switch is that Hisle is widely respected as a coach and as one of the game's "good guys" and was hired during Gaston's regime as manager.
Although he's been told nothing officially, Hisle left little doubt last night that he felt the report in Friday's editions of the Toronto Sun was accurate. "I'm assuming that it's true," he said.
"Cito called me [Friday] and told me it had been in the paper and that he'd been asked about it at the press conference. Evidently the people making the decisions are not happy."
Whatever the reason might be for Hisle's firing, it isn't for lack of results. The Blue Jays tied the Yankees for the highest batting average (.279) in the majors, and had the American League's top three hitters in John Olerud, Paul Molitor and Roberto Alomar.
Tenace may be going, too
Hisle reportedly is one of three coaches who won't return. Bullpen coach John Sullivan announced before the season that this would be his last year. Speculation on the third member who won't be back centers on bench coach Gene Tenace, who filled in as manager late in the 1991 season when Gaston was sidelined with a back injury.