Rachel Balkovec wants to be a hit with the New York Yankees — and the way to do that is to help their minor leaguers get more hits.
She was hired in November and starts work next month as a minor league hitting coach, believed to the first woman hitting coach employed by a big league team.
“She was really impressive. I really look forward to having more conversations with her,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said yesterday after talking with Balkovec at the winter meetings. “She has a really good understanding, especially when it comes to the pitch tracking.”
A 32-year-old from Omaha, Nebraska, Balkovec was a minor league strength and conditioning coordinator and coach for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2011-15, then switched to the Houston Astros as Latin American strength and conditioning coordinator. She worked with the Dutch national baseball and softball teams in the past year while studying for her second master’s degree.
Yes, women have not been given the same opportunities as men in Major League Baseball. She is past that.
“My mom always used to say, life’s not fair,” she explained. “So is it fair? No. Does it matter? No. You have to keep standing at that door banging on it.”
All those hurdles in a male-dominated sport have toughened her.
“I view my path as an advantage,” she said. “I had to do probably much more than maybe a male counterpart, but I like that because I’m so much more prepared for the challenges that I might encounter.”
Balkovec interviewed with Kevin Reese, a former major leaguer who is the Yankee’ senior director of player development; Andrew Wright, hired in June as manager of staff development after four years as baseball coach at the University of Charleston; and Dillon Lawson, who joined the Yankees before last season as a hitting coordinator after working in Houston’s minor league system.
Born July 5, 1987, Balkovec played softball, basketball and soccer at Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha. She enrolled at Creighton, where she was a catcher, then transferred to New Mexico and received a degree in 2009 with a major in exercise science. Two years later, she got a masters in sports management from LSU. AP