NEW YORK -- After eight years of a single voice (Kevin Long's) advising their hitters, the Yankees will go with a two-headed monster of a hitting coach this season, with Jeff Pentland as the lead voice and Alan Cockrell assisting him.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman said the two-man approach to what used to be a one-man job is the next big thing in baseball: "It’s becoming a trend in the game," he said. "Every single candidate we spoke with either had a No. 2 or felt the game has evolved to the point where you need one. You can’t be in two places at one time, so this way you can have one coach working with guys on the field and the other working in the cage."
Cashman said Pentland and Cockrell were "on the same page" in terms of hitting philosophy, although he did not share exactly what the philosophy is.
But there's no doubt both have ties to the Yankees -- Pentland was Joe Girardi's hitting coach during Girardi's last three seasons with the Cubs, worked as Joe Torre's hitting coach in Los Angeles and in the same capacity for Tony Pena when Pena managed the K.C. Royals. Pentland also has a long association with former Cubs GM Jim Hendry, now a Yankees assistant GM. Cockrell was hired years ago to work at the Yankees' player development complex by roving hitting instructor Gary Denbo -- a favorite of Derek Jeter's -- and later worked with Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler in Colorado.
According to one baseball insider, Pentland's "communicative skills" are top-notch: "Barry Bonds used to listen to him, and Barry doesn't listen to anybody. And this was when he had his father [Bobby Bonds] and Willie Mays in his ear all the time. Still, he only listened to Jeff."
Said Cashman: "I definitely think I hired the best candidates for the job."
A job which now takes two men to perform.