There are abstract and important ways Alyssa Nakken’s success as a Giants coach paves the way for more women to enter Major League Baseball jobs that did not exist for them before.
And then there are tangible ways that the Giants assistant coach has made the path clearer for women who want to enter the sphere. Everyone who has worked with her on the club only has said positive things, and the Giants are encouraged to further diversify their staff.
San Francisco talked with “some” women about its assistant pitching coach position that was vacant when Ethan Katz was hired by the White Sox, Gabe Kapler revealed Thursday.
“In a lot of ways, [Nakken] excelled past any of our expectations, and so her success was really exciting,” the manager said on the team’s “Chalk Talk @ Home” YouTube show. “When we just hired our assistant pitching coach, J.P. Martinez, from the Twins, it made us bring some women into that pool for consideration for our assistant pitching coach position.”
Kapler called one candidate with whom he used to work with in Philadelphia “really interesting.”
“It turns out she wasn’t accessible and it wasn’t quite the right time and the right fit,” said Kapler, whose staff is the only in major league history to have a woman as a full-time coach. “But certainly every time we have an open spot on our staff, we’re going to be thinking about and considering the great women around the game of baseball but also outside the industry and seeing if they can fill those roles successfully for us.”
The Giants had interviewed Rachel Balkovec, a coach in the Yankees’ system, before hiring Nakken last offseason.
This year, they filled another “blind spot,” as Kapler referred to it, in hiring a Spanish speaker for the pitching role. There are plenty of Spanish speakers on the pitching staff — seven on the 40-man roster — and the tandem of Andrew Bailey and Brian Bannister doesn’t have a native speaker. Martinez, who had been assistant minor league pitching coordinator with Minnesota, speaks Spanish.
“Independent of that, he’s an excellent communicator, really smart guy, [has] the ability to bring both data and a really good feel for the game to the dugout and to the clubhouse,” Kapler said of the 38-year-old. “Comes highly recommended from the people that I know in Minnesota.”
The Giants’ staff still has other openings, including, Kapler said, for a mental-skills coach.
“We’re going to have a great number of really smart, really capable women vying for that position as well,” the manager said. “Every time we have that opportunity, we’re going to seek to include as diverse a pool as possible of candidates.”