The Yankees’ new hitting coach’s first job may be to clean up a mess made by the man who hired him.
On the day the Yankees introduced James Rowson as their hitting coach, the agent for Giancarlo Stanton took umbrage with a statement Brian Cashman made last week about Stanton’s penchant for getting injured.
In his rollicking, profanity-laced news conference last week at the general managers meetings, Cashman said of Stanton: “He’s going to wind up getting hurt again more likely than not because it seems to be part of his game.”
Agent Joel Wolfe on Tuesday told the Athletic: “I read the context of the entire interview. I think it’s a good reminder for all free agents considering signing in New York both foreign and domestic that to play for that team you’ve got to be made of Teflon, because mentally and physically because you can never let your guard down even in the offseason.”
Wolfe’s “both foreign and domestic” reference is eye-popping because he is also the agent for coveted Japanese righthander Yoshinobu Yamamoto. It sounds as if Cashman may have some explaining to do if he is going to convince Yamamoto to sign with the Yankees.
Stanton is under contract and has a full no-trade clause, so he and the Yankees appear to be stuck with each other. Cashman said fixing Stanton – who hit .191 in 101 games in 2023 – would be at the top of the to-do list for the new hitting coach.
Enter Rowson, who said he already has exchanged text messages with Stanton.
“I think the first thing is just to make contact,” Rowson said. “Let's talk. Hear what he has to say. I think one of the biggest attributes of a hitting coach is not always what you know, but sometimes it's listening. Listening is a big, key factor in this. Hearing guys and understanding where they're coming from because it'll help you guide the path of success for them at times. So I can't wait. I'm excited about him. Hope he's looking forward to it. We'll sit down, we'll talk and then we'll kind of go from there.”
Rowson, 47, is a Mount Vernon native and has deep Yankees roots. After two years as the Single-A Tampa hitting coach, he was the Yankees' minor league hitting coordinator from 2008-11 and again in 2014-16. The second time, he worked with an up-and-comer named Aaron Judge.
In 2023, the Yankees fired hitting coach Dillon Lawson mid-season and replaced him with former big-leaguer Sean Casey, who was seen as an improvement in terms of relating to players. The club wanted Casey to return in 2024, but he decided he didn’t want to leave his family for a full-year coaching job.
Rowson has been a hitting coach for the Cubs and Twins and was the Marlins bench coach from 2020-22 under Don Mattingly. Last season, he was the Tigers’ assistant hitting coach.
The good news for Rowson: There’s nearly nowhere to go but up since the Yankees hit .227 in 2023, which was next-to-last in the majors behind Oakland’s .223.
Rowson said no decision had been reached on whether the club will retain assistant hitting coaches Brad Wilkerson and Casey Dykes.