Tony LaRussa was credited with creating the modern reliever and he might have recently created something else: the assistant hitting coach. He was the first two hire one in 2008 and there are already 11 teams with them. Four more are considering adding one as well including the Yankees, according to Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com.
It’s not abnormal that the Yankees would hire an assistant hitting coach. It’s been a trend in baseball lately and they are looking for ways to get an edge. Teams have been doing it because the expanding technology being used by hitters means that hitting coaches are being stretched thing. Hitters also take so much batting practice these days that traditional hitting coaches can’t even oversee it all.
This is not an indictment on the Yankees current hitting coach Kevin Long, although it does provide an in house replacement if they do decide to part ways with him down the road. It’s just a further evolution of the job.
The timing is a bit odd though. A couple of Yankees employees, Tino Martinez and Greg Colbrunn, recently left the team to join the Marlins and Red Sox respectively to serve as their hitting coaches. It doesn’t make sense that they would hire an assistant hitting coach after missing out on their own employees. It seems like they must have gotten the idea after watching them leave.