Tampa head coach Rachel Balkovich ready for Yankees lights

Tampa – The Low-A Tampa Tarpons are scheduled to open the regular season on April 8 in Lakeland, Florida, against the Tigers branch.

It will be the first managerial appearance for Rachel Balkovich, the first woman to manage a minor league team.

But Balkovich, who was named to the position last month, is not focused on that date. There is a lot of work to be done first.

“I am grateful this time to train with the guys that are here,” the 34-year-old said Wednesday during the Yankees’ mini camp at the Player Development Complex. “Here we are studying every day, watching the video. I go during my day learning aspects of defence, learning our inside and out philosophies in defense which I have not been really close to as a strike coach. I am not worried about the start of the season at the moment.”

Having worked her way up in professional baseball in terms of strength and conditioning, as well as the batting side, Balkovich said she’s embracing the broader role as a manager.

Rachel Balkovich
Rachel Balkovich
New York Post: Charles Wenselberg
Rachel Balkovic, manager of the Yankees Low-A Tampa Tarpons, speaks to reporters.
Rachel Balkovic, manager of the Yankees Low-A Tampa Tarpons, speaks to reporters.
New York Post: Charles Wenselberg

“I’ve had a lot of support from the players,” Balkovic said. “They call me ‘Skip.’ It’s really natural to be honest with you.”

She’s already garnered a lot of attention since getting her new role, and that will continue – and perhaps intensify – once the season starts in April (the minor league season is not affected by the MLB shutdown).

“It’s just part of the job,” Balkovich said of the extra lights. “Sure, with where I go and want to go on my career, I really don’t have a choice. Is it extra time? Could it be a distraction? Sure. But if I don’t know how to manage that, I’ll never be where I want to be.” … I just see it as another part of my job. I have to hone these skills myself and be good at those things. … Once you sign on the dotted line, that’s the responsibility you accept.”

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