NEW YORK -- Responding to a season in which they set a Major League record with 30 players serving 39 stints on the injured list, the Yankees announced the restructuring of their strength and conditioning department on Monday, highlighted by the addition of Eric Cressey as the team’s new director
NEW YORK -- Responding to a season in which they set a Major League record with 30 players serving 39 stints on the injured list, the Yankees announced the restructuring of their strength and conditioning department on Monday, highlighted by the addition of Eric Cressey as the team’s new director of player health and performance.
Other new additions include Donovan Santas, who was named the assistant director of player health and performance, and Brett McCabe, who will serve as the club’s new Major League strength and conditioning coach. Cressey said that he envisions a multi-pronged approach throughout the organization that will be able to produce optimal results.
“We're already in the process of looking very, very closely at overhauling how we assess players, how we intake them during the Spring Training period,” Cressey said. “I think that's the first thing: You don't want to go on a journey unless you have the right road map.”
Steve Donohue, who has been with the club since 1979 and served as the head athletic trainer following Gene Monahan’s 2011 retirement, is transitioning to a new role as the team’s director of medical services. Also assuming new roles in '20 are director of sports medicine and rehabilitation Michael Schuk and head athletic trainer Tim Lentych.
Cressey, 38, will oversee the club’s strength and conditioning program. A celebrity in the world of performance coaching, he has directed the offseason routines of more than 100 professional baseball players, helping to popularize the emphasis of kinesiology and biomechanics.
Already this offseason, Cressey said that he has personally worked with Yankees pitchers Jonathan Holder, Michael King, Jordan Montgomery and Adam Ottavino, while the club has been overseeing Miguel Andújar, Gary Sánchez and Luis Severino in the Dominican Republic. Gleyber Torres and Luke Voit have been in action at the Yanks’ facility in Tampa, Fla.
“After a long and thorough review process, we’re proud to welcome Eric Cressey to the New York Yankees to oversee our player health and performance team,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “Eric is a highly accomplished coach in the fitness world and has a strong reputation in the baseball industry in regards to athlete training, performance and player care.
“Among his responsibilities, Eric will have a large hand in staffing, assessments, facility enhancements, equipment, continuing education and technology. We’re excited to have Eric join the Yankees to best serve our players across the organization.”
Cressey will continue serving as president of Cressey Sports Performance, which has facilities in Hudson, Mass., and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The outfit previously employed newly appointed Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake as a pitching coordinator, and Cressey will be permitted to continue working with players employed by the other 29 Major League clubs.
“There actually is a lot of precedent in baseball for this,” Cressey said. “The number of Major League hitting coaches that work with Major Leaguers from other teams in the offseason is borderline astounding. That happens quite a bit, whether it's in a formal context or not. Certainly it's something we're seeing more -- Kyle Bodie with the Reds, Jason Ochart with the Phillies.”
Santas, 42, becomes the first person to hold his position for the club. It will be his 20th season working in professional baseball, having spent each of the past 17 with the Blue Jays. He most recently served as Toronto’s head of strength and conditioning.
McCabe, 40, is replacing strength and conditioning coach Matt Krause, who was dismissed by the Yankees in December. McCabe recently spent six seasons (2013-18) in the same role with the Padres following seven seasons ('06-12) with the D-backs, where, as the Minor League strength and conditioning coordinator, he oversaw the strength and conditioning programs for each of the organization’s affiliates.
In October, Cashman said that the club was investigating the underlying reasons for its 2019 injury issues, including rehab setbacks that extended IL stays for prominent players like Severino, Giancarlo Stanton and Dellin Betances.
“We need to make sure that we're very attentive to detail over the entire course of the season,” Cressey said. “It’s very important that there's a universal language that's spoken across the organization.”
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.