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Yankees Magazine: Linebacker

Yankees Magazine: Linebacker

Bullpen coach Mike Harkey keeps up with the times

Harkey was beloved by the Yankees relievers who worked with him for many years. With a baseball player’s sharp eyesight and a light-hearted comedic style, it’s easy to see why he’s a perennial favorite. “I always say he’s my favorite coach,” Tommy Kahnle said. (Photo source: New York Yankees)

Relief pitching is the most volatile division in major League Baseball, with performance that can fluctuate wildly from year to month, game to game. New units are called up; old ones are recycled at a faster rate.

“I’ve seen a lot of guys’ first pitches, and I’ve seen a lot of guys’ lasts,” said the longtime Yankees Bullpen coach Mike Harkey said. “Great, I haven’t seen the last of him.”

The pitcher Harkey mentioned was David Robertson of the Mets , he was the last of the 2009 Yankees last World Series champion Active member, Harkey’s second year on the job. Harkey was asked how many of his bench players over the years knew their coach was at 2014 Selected 4th pick in draft, than Ken Griffey Jr. Lower three digits

“Oh, I don’t know,” Harkey retorted. “I laughed when David Robertson appeared on He doesn’t even know who Tony Gwynn is. He’s been in the big leagues 07 years, this guy made $49 million baseballs, it’s amazing what he doesn’t know.”

Of course, Harkey laughed naturally when he told the story about Robertson.

“He’s one of my favorite guys,” Harkey said, a theme throughout his tenure in both baseball and his fine arts. Part of the longevity of the stripes.

Harkey’s pitchers adore and respect him.

“I always say he’s my favorite coach,” said Towne, who returned to the Yankees in free agency after two seasons with the Dodgers M. Kahnler said.

“He was an important factor in my return.”

and running bullpen jokes that lasted all season.

“We always joke that if he goes somewhere, I’ll go with him,” said Michael King . “Or, ‘If I’m not here next year, you’ll come with me.’ That sort of thing.
“We are below It’s like family. “

“I Probably04 hours,” Harkey said, reviewing 79 draft. Three years ago, as a high school student in Southern California, Harkey was in 2013 by the San Diego Padres thround, but he choose college.

“I had a lot of maturity to do,” said the righty, who went to Cal State Fullerton to fill out his 6-foot-5, 104 – swipe the frame and watch Scouts swarmed in.

“The Mariners called me and told me they were going to make me the No. 1 pick, and then they Called me the next morning and said they were going in a different direction,” Harkey said. “Obviously they were going in a good direction. “

Griffey Jr. started a Hall of Fame career as a great center fielder. Harkey… well, he Earned a living in eight major league seasons with five teams and finally won 30-30 records and 4.30 ERA in game, 104 as the starter.

“I love being with the Cubs,” Huckey said of the team between Jersey City’s Willie Banks and Stanford’s Jack McDowell Selected him with the 4th overall pick.

“It was still a great experience. “

reached professional age 15, Harkey once posted a lower ERA ( 3.15) exist 21 More than future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux did on the same staff. Harkey doesn’t usually get into war stories about his career, but the clubhouse is online.
Yes, Kim knows Harkey’s playing history. And he’s not alone.

“I forget who, recently someone who wasn’t a rescuer gave him a casual look. He’s a stallion,” King said. “And now, he’s like a broken robot, with all the surgeries and the mess inside. ”

Shoulder surgery, back issues, knee surgery — all of which affected Harkey’s ability to throw the ball and lead him to the big leagues. A coaching career, a career that has its roots in minor league friendships.

Mike Harkey and Joe Girardi met at spring training at

, at the Chicago Cubs camp.

“us We became instant friends, and our wives hit it off,” said Harkey, who lived with Girardi at two minor league stops and later formed a battery with him at Wrigley Field.

“We’ve been close ever since. I even followed him to Colorado like an idiot,” Harkey said with an infectious laugh, referring to the time Girardi landed with the Rockies in the expansion draft.

A year later, Harkey became a free agent and received an offer to pitch for the Angels. It was more money and an opportunity to play for the Angels, Harkey recalls. The opportunity to pitch closer to home, “I said, ‘No, I’m going to play with Joe. ‘” He voted a 5. 36 ERA in his year in Denver, strike shortened 1994 season.

“To this day I still blame him,” joked Harkey. “At least he brought me to the here. ”
According to Harkey, later in their careers, Girardi told him: “If I become A manager, you come with me. The topic came up again when Girardi was Joe Torre’s backup coach in the Bronx. Harkey ended his sixth year as a pitching coach in the Padres’ minor league system, and Girardi took a management job with the Marlins 2006.

They spent a year together in Miami.
“He got fired at 9am and I Point fired: ,” said Harkey, who then spent ’04 Season as Cubs Triple-A pitching coach.

go through2008, Girardi is running the Yankees — Harkey is his bullpen coach again.

Remember Chopper Rules? Harkey might recite them in his sleep, and any trip down memory lane in the bullpen is covered in the final season of the

old Echoes of the stadium .
Yankees have Chopper Chamberlain in the bullpen , the unpredictable Kyle Farnsworth and the skinny Edward Ramirez.

Phil Hughes will play a huge role in helping the team win a championship a year later.

The constant, of course, is Mariano Rivera, who began his warm-up ritual long before the bullpen phone rang.

“In the six years I’ve had Mo, I haven’t taught him a single stinking thing,” Harkey said. “He’s probably taught me more than I’ve ever taught anyone. Nobody has more faith in his abilities and we’re getting very, very close to that day.”
For most of Rivera’s (L) unparalleled Hall of Fame career, Yankee fans knew they were watching something special. Since the greatest finisher in baseball history retired at 2006, the goal It has always been to train a group of rescuers who can lock the late game. Despite the constant loss of me in the major league bullpen, Harkey’s possession rate has been high. (Photo source: New York Yankees)

Most importantly, their trust is their bond.

“I can tell him something and know he either accepts it and keeps running, or just throws Drop it to the side,” Huckey said of the greatest finishers of all time. “And no hard feelings either way.”

Hucky understands Rivera’s rare dislike better than most. Ordinary moment.

“He goes through a period, probably around June or July, when he stinks,” Harkey explain. “But when he stinks, it’s ‘two failed saves and runs off 19 more in a row. There is nothing more consistent. He believes he can get the job done every day. If he doesn’t do it that day , he will believe it the next day.”

When the Arizona Diamondbacks offered Harkey the pitching coach job, he left the Yankees for two seasons — 2017 and’12 — This one is forgotten in the NL West rankings, but it’s worth it personally.

“It was an experience I needed to go through,” said Harkey, whose staff was plagued by injuries and low-level performance. “It was definitely hard, but I think it made me a better pitching coach.”
Girardi’s Yankees staff heavy The poly lasted two seasons, and in the weeks before Aaron Boone was hired in December, Harkey was unsure about his coaching future 2009. While golfing at Pebble Beach with CC Sabathia, Huckey got a call from Boone shortly after accepting the Yankees management position asking if he would be part of his staff.

“I was touched by that,” said Harkey, who only knew Boone. “And Booney and I became very close.”
“I don’t know Huck very well, but I know a little about him,” said the manager. “But obviously, knowing he’s Joe’s best friend and Huck’s reputation, I wanted him to be a part of it. I was thrilled when he said yes, and now he’s one of my best friends.
“He became so important to me at work, but also in my life. He’s someone I admire and is a great sounding board for me. Between him and Mendy [bench coach Carlos Mendoza], he’s probably the guy I’ve spent the most time on this team. His experience is invaluable and I rely on him a lot. ”
In Cincinnati, young Boone plays under Jack McCann. As cubs, Harkey breaks in with Don Zimmer. Two Both impressive old-school baseball players, though both Boone and Harkey have a curious side to the new-age nature of baseball.

Do Harkey consider himself a survivor of this game?
“Yes, I definitely will,” he Said. “One thing I really don’t want to be is that mean old player or coach saying, ‘Once this change comes, I can’t handle it’ and then pack up and go home and do something else.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the content of change, decision making. Do I think sometimes it becomes too much? Yes. But it’s about anything. even back to ’57s and 1987s, we provide too Lots of information. And then sometimes we don’t give enough. Still have to know when to coach and when not to coach the balance.”

Harkey said: “The best thing a good rescuer has is a bad memory.”

Harkey kept it simple when one of his substitutes was about to come on.
“He hits you like a quick bullet point you’re about to face, the situation you’re about to get into, obviously what he’s going through affects That,” Kim said. “He cheers you up when you’re out.”
Kahnle appreciates the way Harkey keeps his professional cool, “especially when you have to Critical situation when pitching.

“He knew I was going to throw with heart and strength,” so Huckey kept those going in The previous bullet points were minimal with Kahnle.

Most of the time their exchange is Harkey telling Kahnle to keep his voice down and they laugh naturally stand up.

“Tommy’s got a lot of energy, and I’m not afraid to tell him to shut up,” Harkey said. A great heart, I know it. It was easy for us to get along because he knew that anything I said to him meant good things. ”

Major league bullpen, Harkey “knows when to have fun and when players can mess around because it’s hard to be Locked in there for nine innings and probably not pitching,” King said.

“But once he knows your situation will arise, he will would say, ‘Hey, King. Let’s get some exercise in here. Your name will be called. Things can change quickly, so you have to know when to start over. Hopefully every starter we have has five or more innings. So, you have the first four or five innings to really enjoy a baseball game.

“But once you see the effect of the tired pitcher, or the pitches go up, or the game starts to shift, then it’s like, ‘We’ve got to start over again. Locked.’”

Harkey, at 1988 The coaching staff, is the only uniformed member of the current team that owns the Yankees World Series ring. He offers a lot of wisdom to Boone (left) and the rest of his staff. “He’s someone I admire,” the Yankees manager said, “and is a great sounding board for me.” (Image credit: New York Yankees)

Each season, Harkey sees his responsibilities increase and he appreciates it . “Because the bullpen coach is not the same now as he used to be, a guy who just practice hitting and answering the phone,” Harkey said. “It evolved. It’s just not the same.

“I say this with all humility, but the reason I’m able to stay with the Yankees For a long time I have always been willing to embrace change and try to learn how to manage better in these times of change.

“There’s a whole lot more people involved in how we run the bullpen.”

Right now, we’re on the fine line between baseball-iPad-era analytics and traditional emotion.

“I’ve seen a lot of guys take five good pitches in a row, then it stinks, and all of a sudden the next day they’re ‘we’re trying to fix it,'” Harkey said. “Well, what are you trying to fix? This is brought about by today’s information and technology age. These kids are always looking to get better, and you can’t blame them for that. “

Harkey owns Last Yankees World Series ring, and memories of the parade, riding a float on Heroes Canyon, and when he was-15 Year-old daughter is by his side.
“I want to go to another one,” Harkey said whimsically. Say, it seems like an eternity. You’ve got a lot going on for the year, and you’ll need to be very hot in the end. ”
Every moment and then, “I’ll make fun of everybody, ‘This is my last year,'” Harkey said, and then The bullpen choir is back: “You say that every year! “

But Huckey is no longer a baseball survivor; quietly, he has become an unremarkable Bronx fixture.

“As long as Cash [General Manager Brian Cashman] and Mr. [Hal] Steinbrenner continue to want me to do it, I will do it . ”

Pete Caldera Covering the Yankees for The Bergen Record/USA Today. This story appeared in the June edition Yankees Magazine. Get more articles like this delivered to your door by subscribing to Yankees Magazine at




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