Balkovec recovers and is ready to return

TAMPA, Florida USA — Rachel Balkovechired by the New York Yankees as the first female manager of an affiliated minor league team, is nearing her return after having received a ball in the face the week before, during batting practice.

Balkovec was hit March 22, causing him to miss his first scheduled game of spring training two days later with Class A Tampa.

“I saw her last night, she’s starting to feel better,” Kevin Reese, the Yankees’ vice president of development, said Wednesday. “I think he’s getting close to being back on the field.”

Balkovec, 34, did not suffer a concussion from the blow, but his face was swollen, especially an area around one eye. He was participating in batting practice in a cage inside the minor league complex when the accident happened.

Reese doesn’t think the injury will prevent Balkovec from coaching his first regular-season game on April 8 at Lakeland.

“Knowing Rachel the way I do, the doctors have to approve some things she can do and some she can’t, but I think she’s looking forward to being back,” Reese said.

Balkovec has broken several barriers on his way to occupying that position. She was the first female full-time strength and conditioning coach for a minor league team, the first full-time hitting coach in the minors with the Yankees.

The New York team announced his hiring as minor league manager in January.

Balkovec, a former softball player who caught at Creighton and New Mexico, landed her first professional baseball job with the St. Louis Cardinals as a strength and conditioning coach in 2012.

She joined the Houston Astros in 2016. She was hired as the conditioning coordinator and later as the position coach at the Double-A Corpus Christi branch.

He joined the Yankees organization as a minor league hitting coach in 2019.

Yankees right-hander Luis Severino, who had to tour his scheduled start Wednesday night for Saturday because of arm soreness, felt fine after a 31-pitch bullpen session.

Severino was limited to four relief starts in 2021 after Tommy John surgery on Feb. 27, 2020. He is scheduled to follow Gerrit Cole in the Yankees’ rotation this season.

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Balkovec recovers and is ready to return