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Division-leading Indians fire hitting coach

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The first-place Cleveland Indians fired their hitting coach on Sunday following a recent offensive slump that has loosened their grip atop the American League Central division, the team said on Sunday.

Jon Nunnally, who was named hitting coach before the 2010 Major League Baseball (MLB) season, will be replaced by Bruce Fields, the team said in a statement.

Fields is in his sixth season in the Indians organization, having been a minor league hitting coordinator since 2007.

The Indians were shut out six times during a three-week span from the end of May to mid-June and are just 9-16 since racing out to MLB's best record last month.

Cleveland, who led the division by seven games as recently as May 23, are clinging to a one-game lead over Detroit.

The decision was not a consensus one in the clubhouse.

"We're in first place," right fielder Choo Shin-soo told the team's website. "It's sad. You don't want to lose somebody that's a part of what's been going on here.

"During the season, a new hitting coach comes in, it's tough. Everybody has different styles, but you don't want to think about new coaches coming in."

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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