The Yankees' new coaching staff should seem very familiar to veteran baseball fans
The Yankees officially announced their 2018 coaching staff on Monday, and, like most teams around the league, it's clear that rookie skipper Aaron Boone will be leaning on some fellow former Major Leaguers for support. Boone is, of course, famous for one of his finest moments as a player, but his coaches were no slouches, either.
Returning from Joe Girardi's 2017 staff are pitching coach Larry Rothschild, bullpen coach Mike Harkey and hitting coach Marcus Thames. Rothschild only made it into seven games for the Tigers across 1981-82, while Harkey hung around for parts of eight seasons betweeen 1988-97, mostly with the Cubs.
Thames, however, got to author a unique moment with the Yankees on June 10, 2002. He became just the 19th player in MLB history to go deep on his very first pitch -- against Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, no less:
Thames ended up slugging 115 homers for the Yankees, Rangers, Tigers and Dodgers until calling it quits in 2011.
That's a lot of dingers, but it wouldn't be tops on this coaching staff. Leading the way is new third-base coach Phil Nevin:
Nevin crushed 208 long balls during his 12 years in the Majors, including a career-high 41 during an All-Star season with the Padres in 2001. He actually played a small role in Yankees history before Monday, too. Back in 1992, he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Astros -- five spots ahead of Derek Jeter. If Houston scout Hal Newhouser had his way, Jeter would have been an Astro.
New bench boach Josh Bard caught a decade in the Majors, and though he was far from the masher that Nevin was, he did have a debut to rival Thames. On Aug. 23, 2002, he started for the Indians against the Mariners, and he had already made his first game memorable by notching his first career hit in the fifth inning against Joel Pineiro.
Then, with the score tied at 2 in the bottom of the ninth, Bard faced James Baldwin and did this:
What a way to say hello.
Rounding out the MLB alumni on the staff are former outfielders Carlos Mendoza and Reggie Willits. While Mendoza only appeared in 28 games between the 1997 and 2000 seasons with the Mets and Rockies, respectively, Willits was a key Angels role player for six years. Whenever manager Mike Scioscia called upon Willits, he knew that his defense would be safely covered:
Scioscia had so much faith in Willits that even though he never went deep in 1,014 career trips to the plate, he stuck on the Angels' roster for three AL West division champions from 2006-11.