The Elias Koteas Sports Bureau haven’t informed me of the last time a first place club fired their hitting coach, but we’ll need no outside research beyond Newsday’s Ken Davidoff and David Lennon to confirm the first full-time, big league coaching assignment of Rickey Henderson’s career.

The Mets will begin the season’s second half with a dramatic change in their coaching staff, Newsday has learned. Rick Down is out as hitting coach, and Rickey Henderson is in.

Down said that Mets manager Willie Randolph informed him last night of the decision, and that Henderson would replace him.

The Mets have a .332 on-base percentage, fifth in the NL, and a .419 slugging percentage, ranking them seventh in the league. Carlos Delgado recorded an awful first half, compiling a .740 OPS (down from last year’s .909) and Carlos Beltran disappointed, as well, with an .817 OPS (down from last year’s .982).

Given Rickey’s alleged poker playing in the Mets clubhouse, perhaps there’s still a chance for a future coaching gig for Rey “The Barber ” Sanchez?