(Yankees Manager Aaron Boone and General Manager Brian Cashman at a Kentucky basketball game in December – Photo by Jason Schott)
The Yankees have finalized their coaching staff for the 2018 season. Aaron Boone is entering his first season as Yankees manager, and he will have some familiar faces, as pitching coach Larry Rothschild, bullpen pitching coach Mike Harkey, and hitting coach Marcus Thames will continue serving in their roles.
The new members of the Yankees coaching staff will be: bench coach Josh Bard, assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere, third base coach Phil Nevin, first base coach/outfield instructor Reggie Willits and Major League quality control coach/infield instructor Carlos Mendoza.
In addition, Jason Brown will serve as catching coach, Radley Haddad will be the coaching assistant/bullpen catcher and Brett Weber returns as coaching assistant/instant replay coordinator.
Bard, 39, spent the last five seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, including the last two (2016-17) as the club’s Major League bullpen coach. In 2017, Dodgers relievers set a National League record with 637K and led all NL bullpens in ERA (3.38), opponents’ BA (.222) and K/9.0IP ratio (10.24). He also worked in the Dodgers front office as a pro scout from 2014-15 and as a special assistant to the general manager in 2013.
Born in Ithaca, N.Y., Bard played 10 Major League seasons as a catcher with the Cleveland Indians (2002-05), Boston Red Sox (2006), San Diego Padres (2006-08), Washington Nationals (2009) and Seattle Mariners (2010-11), batting .254 (452-for-1,778) with 162R, 109 doubles, 3 triples, 39HR and 220RBI over 586 career games. Bard and Boone were teammates with the 2005 Indians. The switch-hitting catcher was originally selected by Colorado in the third round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft out of Texas Tech University.
Rothschild, 63, returns for his eighth season as Yankees pitching coach and his 44th in professional baseball as a player, coach or manager.
In 2017, Yankees pitchers set a franchise record with 1,560 strikeouts and posted the AL’s third-lowest ERA (3.72), while holding opponents to an AL-low .228 batting average. Yankees relievers also set new Major League records in K/9.0IP ratio (10.92) and strikeout rate (29.0%). Since joining the Yankees in 2011, Rothschild has helped the club’s pitchers log an AL-best 2.96 K/BB ratio, the third-best mark in the Majors.
Harkey, 51, returns for a ninth season as Yankees bullpen coach, having held the position from 2008-13 before returning in 2016. In 2017, Yankees relievers struck out 653 batters, eclipsing the 600K mark for the first time in franchise history. The bullpen set a Major League record with their 10.92 K/9.0IP ratio, their second consecutive season leading the Majors in the category.
The San Diego native was the fourth overall pick of the 1987 First-Year Player Draft by the Chicago Cubs and went 36-36 with a 4.49 ERA in 131 Major League games (104 starts) with the Cubs (1988, ‘90-93), Colorado Rockies (1994), Oakland Athletics (1995), California Angels (1995) and Los Angeles Dodgers (1997).
Thames, 40, takes over as hitting coach after two seasons as the club’s assistant hitting coach. In 2017, Yankees batters led the Majors with 241HR, the fourth-highest total in franchise history. Their 858R and 5.30 runs-per-game average ranked second among Major League clubs, trailing only Houston (896R, 5.53 per game). Yankees hitters in 2017 outscored the 2016 club by 178R (858 to 680), the team’s largest year-over-year scoring increase since improving by 247R from 1936 to 1937 (excludes strike years).
Born in Louisville, Miss., Thames was selected by the Yankees in the 30th round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft and played in parts of 10 Major League seasons as an outfielder with the Yankees (2002, ‘10), Texas Rangers (2003), Detroit Tigers (2004-09) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2011), combining to hit .246 with 115HR and 301RBI.
Pilittere, 36, enters his seventh season with the Yankees, his first on the Major League coaching staff. Pilittere (“pill-ih-TAIR-ee”) served as the hitting coach at four different levels in the Yankees organization over the last five years: Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (2017), Double-A Trenton (2015-16), Single-A Tampa (2014) and Single-A Charleston (2013). He began his coaching career with the GCL Yankees in 2012.
The San Dimas, Calif., native played eight minor league seasons as a catcher in the Yankees system, hitting .264 with 77 doubles, 16HR and 183RBI in 470 games. A former team captain at Cal State Fullerton, he helped lead the Titans to a College World Series Championship in 2004.
Nevin, 47, was the third base coach for the San Francisco Giants in 2017 after managing at the Triple-A level in the Arizona Diamondbacks (2014-16) and Detroit Tigers (2011-13) organizations. He also managed the Tigers’ Double-A affiliate in 2010.
In 12 Major League seasons, Nevin hit .270 with 584R, 209 doubles, 6 triples, 208HR, 743RBI and 449BB over 1,217 games for the Houston Astros (1995), Detroit Tigers (1995-97), Anaheim Angels (1998), San Diego Padres (1999-2005), Texas Rangers (2005-06), Chicago Cubs (2006) and Minnesota Twins (2006). In 2001 with the Padres, Nevin was named to the NL All-Star Team and set career highs with a .306 batting average, 41HR and 126RBI.
The Fullerton, Calif., native was selected first overall by the Astros in the 1992 First-Year Player Draft out of Cal State Fullerton. Nevin will be the first former No. 1 overall pick to serve as a Yankees coach.
Willits, 36, spent his first three years (2015-17) with the Yankees organization as the club’s minor league outfield/baserunning coordinator. During his tenure, Yankees minor leaguers were successful on 70.3 percent of their stolen base attempts. Prior to joining the organization, he served as the head coach at Binger-Olney H.S. (Okla.) from 2012-15, capturing two state championships.
The Chickasha, Okla., native played six seasons as a switch-hitting outfielder for the Angels (2006-11), batting .258 (218-for-844) with 146R, 35 doubles, 58RBI and 40SB in 414 Major League games. He was selected by the Angels in the seventh round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Oklahoma.
Mendoza, 38, joins the big league staff for the first time. He enters his 10th season with the Yankees, spending the last five as infield coordinator after managing Single-A Charleston in 2012 and the GCL Yankees in 2011.
Born in Barquisimeto, Ven., Mendoza played 13 minor league seasons (1997-2009) as an infielder in the Giants and Yankees organizations, as well as three years for the independent Pensacola Pelicans. The switch-hitter compiled a .232 batting average with 97 doubles, 15 triples, 19HR and 200RBI in 705 career minor league games.
Brown, 43, will be the Yankees’ catching coach in his second season on the Major League staff, his fourth overall with the Yankees. In 2017, he served as a coaching assistant/bullpen catcher for the club after two seasons as the bullpen coach with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (2015-16).
Haddad, 27, will serve as a bullpen catcher and coaching assistant in his second season with the Major League club. He spent 2017 as a bullpen catcher after four seasons as a catcher in the Yankees minor league system (2013-16).
Weber, 41, begins his 10th season in the Yankees organization and his fifth year in control of the team’s replay review operations. The Yankees have led Major League teams in replay challenge success rate in three of the four seasons of the replay review system, including a 75.0 percent rate in 2017.