Press Release | The New York Yankees today announced Joe Girardi‘s coaches for the 2016 season, with Mike Harkey rejoining the staff as bullpen coach and Tony Pena taking on the role of catching instructor in addition to his responsibilities as first base coach. The club previously announced that Alan Cockrell would become the hitting coach and Marcus Thames would be the assistant hitting coach. Third base coach Joe Espada, pitching coach Larry Rothschild and bench coach Rob Thomson each return to the roles they served in 2015.
Cockrell, 52, was the Yankees’ assistant hitting coach during the 2015 season as the club ranked second in the Majors in runs scored (764), fourth in home runs (212) and slugging percentage (.421), and fifth in OPS (.744). He is currently in his fourth stint as a member of a Major League coaching staff, also having served as hitting coach for Seattle (2009-10) and Colorado (2002 and ’07-08). In 2007, the National League-champion Rockies led their league in batting average (.280), hits (1,591) and on-base percentage (.354). Cockrell was also a minor league roving hitting coordinator for Colorado in 2001 and hitting coach for their Triple-A affiliate from 2003-06. He served as manager for Single-A Salem in 2000 and rookie-level Portland in 1999. He also served as a roving hitting coordinator in the Diamondbacks organization from 2011-13.
Espada, 40, will begin his second consecutive season as Yankees third base coach and his sixth season as a Major League third base coach, having held the same position for Florida/Miami from 2010-13. Prior to joining the Marlins at the Major League level, he was the hitting coach for Single-A Greensboro in 2006 and Single-A Jupiter in 2007. From 2008-09, he was Miami’s minor league infield coordinator. His current position is his second in the Yankees organization, having been a professional scout for the club in 2014.
Harkey, 49, will enter his second stint with the Yankees, having served as bullpen coach for the club from 2008-13. Over his previous tenure, the Yankees bullpen led the AL in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.49), wins (173), saves (279) and strikeouts (2,775), while ranking second in opponents’ batting average (.237) and third in ERA (3.57). In 2014 and 2015, he was the pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose bullpen tied for second in the Majors with 1,041 strikeouts over the two-year span.
In addition to the entirety of his previous stint with the Yankees, Harkey was the bullpen coach under Joe Girardi for the Florida Marlins in 2006. Harkey also has minor league coaching experience, having served as the pitching coach for Triple-A Iowa (2007), Double-A Mobile (2005), Single-A Lake Elsinore (2004, ’02), Single-A Fort Wayne (2003, ’01) and Single-A Rancho Cucamonga (2000).
The California 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), Rockies (1994), A’s (1995), Angels (1995) and Dodgers (1997). With a 12-6 record and 3.26 ERA in 1990, he was named National League Rookie Pitcher of the Year by the Sporting News.
Pena, 58, will enter his 11th season on the Yankees’ Major League staff and fifth as first base coach, having held the position in 2015 and from 2006-08. This will also mark his ninth season as catching instructor, reassuming the role he held from 2006-13. He also served as the club’s bench coach from 2009-14. Prior to the 2013 regular season, he managed the 2013 World Baseball Classic-champion Dominican Republic team and became the first WBC manager to lead his team to an undefeated record (8-0).
Rothschild, 61, will begin his sixth season as Yankees pitching coach and his 42nd in professional baseball as a player, coach or manager. Since joining the Yankees in 2011, the club’s pitchers own a 2.90 strikeout-to-walk ratio (6,513K/2,247BB), the best such mark in the AL and the second-best mark in the Majors over the span. In 2015, Yankees pitchers matched their all-time franchise record of 1,370 strikeouts in a single season – a mark previously set the year before. Additionally in 2014, Yankees pitchers posted a 3.44 K/BB ratio (1,370K/398BB), which ranks as the sixth-highest mark in the Majors since 1900. Prior to joining the Yankees, Rothschild spent nine seasons (2002-10) as the Cubs’ pitching coach. Notably, Rothschild was the first manager in franchise history for Tampa Bay, having been named to the post on November 7, 1997.
Thames, 38, joins the Yankees’ Major League staff after three seasons as a Yankees minor league hitting coach. Following stints as the hitting coach for Single-A Tampa in 2013 and Double-A Trenton in 2014, Thames served in the same role with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2015, helping the RailRiders lead the International League in runs scored (622), batting average (.271) and OPS (.727).
The Mississippi native 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 with the Yankees (2002, ’10), Texas (2003), Detroit (2004-09) and Los Angeles-NL (2011), combining to hit .246 with 115 home runs and 301 runs batted in. Thames enjoyed his best season in 2006, hitting a career-high 26 home runs in 110 games with the AL-champion Tigers.
Thomson, 52, will enter his 27th season as a member of the Yankees organization and ninth on the club’s Major League coaching staff. The 2016 season will mark his third as the Yankees’ bench coach, having also held the position in 2008 and 2015. From 2009-14, he served as the club’s third base coach. The Ontario, Canada, native originally joined the organization in 1990 as third base coach for Single-A Ft. Lauderdale.