Rick Eckstein fired as Nationals hitting coach

Eckstein had served as the Nationals' hitting coach since 2008. Photo: MLB

WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- The Washington Nationals fired hitting coach Rick Eckstein on Monday in a move likely made in an attempt to rouse the 4th worst hitting team in baseball.

Eckstein had served as Washington's hitting coach since October of 2008, making him the longest tenured hitting coach in the National League East.

Going into Monday, though, the Nationals were mired only ahead of lowly Miami, Houston and the New York Mets in team batting average. Washington is hitting just .240 in 2013, 21 percentage points lower than the .261 the team finished with last year.

Rick Schu, who had served the past four seasons as the franchise's minor-league hitting coordinator, will take over for Eckstein effective immediately.

As recently as Sunday, on a day when the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a three-game sweep of Washington, Eckstein's players rallied around him.

"We are the ones that go up there and hit," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman told's Bill Ladson. "He does everything he can to prepare us."