As well as adding Dale Sveum and Mike Jirschele to the 2014 coaching staff, the Kansas City Royals also brought in Don Wakamatsu to serve as the team’s bench coach and catching instructor. This means the third base coach, general assignments coach and bench coach will all be new faces to start the 2014 season.
While Jirschele never quite made the majors, Wakamatsu grabbed a cup of coffee in the major leagues when he played 18 games for the Chicago White Sox as a backup catcher in 1991. His coaching career started in 1997 when he began to manage teams in the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ farm system. In ’98, Wakamatzu earned the Manager of the Year Award while managing the High Desert Mavericks in the Class-A California League. After a year with the Diamondbacks’ Double-A affiliate, Wakamatsu went on to serve numerous roles with the then-Anaheim Angels Double-A team before finally getting his (other) call up to the big leagues.
Wakamatsu landed his first major league coaching job as a bench coach with the Texas Rangers in 2003 and continued in that position for three seasons. He went on to serve in different coaching roles for different teams, most notably with Seattle in 2009. For one full and one partial season, Wakamatsu managed the Seattle Mariners, making him the first ever Asian-American manager in MLB history.
With guys like Wakamatsu and Jirschele in the dugout, the young Royals roster won’t forget the hard work and dedication that it took to get them all where they are today.