Braves coach and mentor to Austin Riley leaves team over vaccine mandate

The Atlanta Braves are parting ways with minor league hitting coach Mike Brumley, who was credited with Austin Riley’s development, over a vaccine mandate.

In addition to sorting out potential contracts with Freddie Freeman and others, the Braves can add finding a new minor league hitting coach to their list of must-dos this spring.

Mike Brumley, who has been the minor league hitting coach for the organization since 2018, is reportedly leaving his post because of his refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Mike Brumley has left the #Braves organization. He was the minor league hitting coordinator and the coach whom Austin Riley often credited most for his big improvement and for his swing maintenance. Am told Brumley declined to get vaccinated, as required to continue in that role,” David O’Brien of The Athletic tweeted on Sunday.

Braves lose Mike Brumley, who mentored Austin Riley and others

Atlanta will no doubt find someone more willing to be vaccinated to fill Brumley’s role. The hope will be to identify someone who was able to work as well with key talents as Brumley was.

Austin Riley was one of Brumley’s most notable success stories. Last season the third baseman was in a slump, so he turned to the hitting coach to help him change his approach and make better decisions at the plate. It worked and Riley went on to win the World Series with the Braves while earning a Silver Slugger.

In the end, Brumley decided that not being vaccinated against a coronavirus that has caused a worldwide pandemic was more important than taking part in shaping the next generation of stars for the reigning World Series champions.

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