10/17 Jaramillo waits for interview

Rudy Jaramillo, whom the Cubs are expected to interview, has watched hitters for 30 years, and has come up with what he calls five simple steps to hitting.

“It’s not like I’m trying to re-invent the swing,” Jaramillo said Saturday in an interview.

His steps include: 1, finding a good rhythm; 2, timing a pitcher’s release point to best see the pitch; 3, separation of hands and footwork; 4, staying square and back; and 5, good weight shift. “Hitters have to learn how to combine all those five steps into one,” said Jaramillo, 59, who does not try to fit every hitter into the same mold.

Those steps are just one phase of the process. Jaramillo says the most important part of hitting is the mental part of the game. “I pride myself in teaching situational hitting,” he said, which is definitely something the Cubs could improve on. Chicago batted .241 with runners in scoring position; only Arizona was worse in the National League at .240.

Rangers president Nolan Ryan said he was bothered by the team’s lopsided walk-to-strikeout ratio, and that the hitters struck out too much.

“What was different,” Jaramillo said of the 2009 season in Texas, “was we had so many rookies and second-year guys. It’s not that they didn’t have the ability; they just didn’t have the experience.”

Jaramillo, who had been the Rangers hitting coach since 1995, says he could see improvement at the end of the season. “You just have to be patient,” he said.

He did talk to Cubs manager Lou Piniella this season about Milton Bradley, who was one of Jaramillo’s prize students in 2008. Bradley led the American League in on-base percentage that year and batted .321. The one thing the Cubs didn’t expect when they signed him to a three-year deal was for Bradley not to hit. The switch-hitter batted .257 overall, and .231 from the left side. Jaramillo said he didn’t see Bradley enough to explain the dropoff in his hitting.

Just because the Cubs are interested in Jaramillo becoming their hitting coach does not mean the team will keep Bradley. The outfielder was suspended for the final 15 games after detrimental conduct, and the Cubs were expected to try to trade him this offseason.

Jaramillo is under contract with the Rangers through Oct. 31 but the team granted the Cubs permission to talk to him, and he expected to meet with GM Jim Hendry this week.

– Carrie Muskat 

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