Yankees to name Mattingly hitting coach
BRONX, New York - The time was finally right for "Donnie Baseball" to return to the New York Yankees on a full-time basis.
Don Mattingly, one of the most beloved Yankees despite captaining the team at a time when it was mired in one of its longest postseason droughts, Tuesday was named as the team's new hitting coach.
"As (Yankees owner) George Steinbrenner has always said, 'Don Mattingly is the quintessential Yankee,'" said Yankees president Randy Levine. "We are so happy to persuade him to coach the Yankees full-time here."
The Yankees also announced that third base coach Willie Randolph will replace Don Zimmer as manager Joe Torre's bench coach.
But the day belonged to Mattingly, who has spent the past four years working as an organization hitting instructor in spring training but refused to commit to the full-time job of batting coach.
The Yankees first wanted Mattingly to take the job when Chris Chambliss was fired in November 2000 and they wanted Mattingly to take over when Gary Denbo was fired in November 2001. Both times, Mattingly declined, citing his desire to spend the majority of his time with his wife and three sons at their Evansville, Indiana home. Mattingly's oldest son, Taylor, graduated high school and signed with the Yankees this past summer.
"I know this is a huge commitment and I needed the support of my entire family to take this opportunity," Mattingly said. "My boys unanimously said, 'Go, dad, go.'"
The 42-year-old Mattingly replaces Rick Down, who was released from his duties following a postseason in which the Yankees hit just .261 overall and .228 with runners in scoring position. New York got by Minnesota and Boston but lost to the Florida Marlins in six games in the Fall Classic, hitting just .140 (7-for-50) with runners in scoring position.
"Playing here helps you understand the media, the ownership, and it's different here," Mattingly said. "I'm not naive to know I'll be on the hot seat here if the hitting struggles."
A six-time All-Star with a .307 career batting average, Mattingly had 442 doubles, 222 homers and 1,099 RBIs in a 14-year career spent entirely with the Yankees. After working his way through the farm system as a 19th-round draft pick, Mattingly made the team in 1982, won the American League Most Valuable Player award in 1985 and was selected as the team's 10th captain in 1991.
Regarded as one of baseball's finest fielding first basemen, Mattingly won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves. He retired after the Yankees' 1995 Division Series loss to the Seattle Mariners - his only postseason series.
After having his No. 23 retired in 1997, Mattingly returned to the organization as a hitting instructor in 2000.
Zimmer had been Torre's bench coach since 1996, when the Yankees started a run of four World Series titles in five years. But Zimmer made it clear after the Yankees lost the 2003 World Series that he was tired of Steinbrenner's criticism of the coaching staff.
Randolph, 49, had served as the Yankees' third base coach since 1994 and may be the heir apparent to Torre, who is in the last year of his contract.
"I am excited about working closer with Joe Torre," Randolph said. "I know I can bring a lot to the table."
The status of pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre remains unresolved. He is contemplating retirement, but Torre made it clear that the Yankees want him back.
"Mel is the best in the business as far as I'm concerned," Torre said. "Hopefully, in the next few days or the next week, he will make his decision."
The Yankees also announced they will retain bullpen coach Rich Monteleone and catching instructor Gary Tuck and Rob Thomson will replace Sojo as a special assignment coach.
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index