SAN DIEGO -- When the Giants announce their full coaching staff, the group will stand out for being young, with more experience in private instruction and minor league coaching than the big leagues in some cases. That'll be something new for the organization, but it has somewhat become the norm around Major League Baseball over the past couple of years.
As they put the staff together, though, the Giants did strongly consider a move that would have been historic for the sport. They interviewed Rachel Balkovec, who recently joined the Yankees as a minor league hitting coach and became the first woman to get hired as a full-time hitting coach by an organization.
The Giants wanted Balkovec, 32, to join them in a hybrid role that would have been something along the lines of a "quality control coach," a job that has popped up elsewhere in recent years. She would have worked on the hitting side but also contributed to the strength and conditioning side, which is her background. Balkovec had been a Yankee for just a few days when the Giants approached, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters that Balkovec elected to stay with New York after interviewing with the Giants, who brought her to San Francisco for the interview.
This is believed to be the first time a woman has interviewed for a job on a big league coaching staff. Balkovec would have been in uniform for the Giants and working for Gabe Kapler, who said he is looking for "diversity of thought" on his coaching staff regardless of gender.
"I've known Rachel for a really long time, Farhan (Zaidi) has known Rachel for a really long time," Kapler told NBC Sports Bay Area. "I think it was four years ago or so that we first became familiar with her work as a strength coach. Rachel is super-dynamic, incredibly smart, incredibly confident, and I have no doubt in my mind that she's going to make a big impact in baseball for many years to come."
Balkovec impressed Giants officials, who came away thinking it's just a matter of time before she is on a big league staff or takes a position high up in baseball operations. She was in San Diego this week and met with some Yankees reporters on Tuesday, where she outlined her background. Her approach is very similar to much of what the Giants have added to their staff, which will be finalized in the coming days.
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“I have a special interest in biomechanics and understanding how the body moves and applying certain things, like for example, if there is a restriction in movement can they spot those types of things,’’ Balkovec said, according to the New York Post. “How is that going to affect their swing mechanics and the ability to get something done in a game situation. Also, the visual side of things, what are the best strategies of things picking up the ball for recognizing a pitch?
"There are two sides of it, and I am not sure which one is more important at this point, but I am leaning more to the visual aspect not very many people are diving into I think at this point. It’s two-fold, understanding the body from a very base level and how it applies to the swing and action."