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Blue Jays hire 2001 Yankees hitting coach Denbo

TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays hired Gary Denbo as their
new hitting coach Tuesday, filling the only vacancy on their
coaching staff for the 2008 season.

Denbo, who was given a two-year deal, replaces Mickey Brantley,
whose contract was not renewed after a season in which Toronto hit
.259, the third-lowest batting average in the AL. The Blue Jays
scored 753 runs, fifth-lowest in the AL.

The 47-year-old Denbo had been working for the New York Yankees
as the team's roving hitting coordinator. The Blue Jays are his
second major league coaching job; he served as batting coach for
the Yankees in 2001.

"Gary was the first guy we interviewed and he kind of blew us
away," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said.

Before hiring Denbo, Ricciardi asked current Yankees Derek Jeter
and Jorge Posada for their opinion.

"They both had raving reviews for him and glowing reports on
him," Ricciardi said. "I think there's enough major league
players who have really benefited from him both at the minor league
and major league level that his stock is pretty good there."

Picked by Cincinnati in the 17th round of the 1983 draft, Denbo
never reached the major leagues and batted just .208 over four
minor league seasons.

Denbo became a Class-A coach in the Reds organization when his
playing career ended in 1986. He moved to the Yankees in 1990,
eventually working his way to the major leagues in 2001.

After one season, he joined Cleveland as a scout, then later
coached with the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japanese Pacific
League. He was initially courted by Toronto in 2006, but decided to
rejoin the Yankees instead.