Sean Casey talks Yankees’ woes, expectations and more during introductory Zoom call

13 July 2023

Sean Casey made an energetic first impression on Wednesday.

The Yankees’ new hitting coach spent about 25 minutes with reporters over Zoom. While doing so, the former first baseman and MLB Network analyst spoke emphatically about hitting, why he’s well-suited for the gig, the Yankees’ offensive struggles, and more. And he did so while sporting what he called the first mustache of his life — a tribute to his childhood idol, Don Mattingly.

“The history, the storied franchise, all of the players who’ve had the opportunity to wear the pinstripes; I think it’s a dream for any player in this industry,” Casey said in an opening statement.

He went on to say that winning a World Series — and his first-ever ring after 12 seasons in the majors – is “the ultimate goal” before answering questions and talking about his career to this point.


Casey said that he’s looking forward to getting to know the Yankees’ hitters and everyone’s individual style at the plate. He also feels that his playing experience will allow him to relate to a veteran-heavy lineup.

“There’s nothing that you’ve struggled through, there’s nothing new that you have done that I haven’t done and I haven’t been there,” Casey said. “I really want to connect with these guys and I want to find out what their approach is. I want to find out what’s made them big leaguers and made them great and made them MVPs and batting champions and getting a chance to be Rookies of the Year and good prospects. I’m looking forward to connecting with them right away.”

Casey said he’s already had long talks with Aaron Judge and Josh Donaldson, in addition to chats with Anthony Rizzo, Harrison Bader and Anthony Volpe. He’s also texted a handful of guys, including Gleyber Torres, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Kyle Higashioka.

Casey planned on flying to Denver with the team for the start of the second half, which begins Friday.


It’s no secret that the Yankees have underperformed offensively. They wouldn’t have kicked Dillon Lawson to the curb for Casey if that weren’t true.

Lawson, in his second season as the team’s lead hitting coach, oversaw an offense that is 29th in hits (690), 28th in average (.231), 26th in on-base percentage (.300) and 21st in wRC+. Those numbers got even worse after Judge tore a ligament in his right big toe on June 3. Over that stretch, they rank last in hits (218), average (.218) and on-base-percentage (.288); 29th in RBI (105); 28th in runs (117); 27th in wRC+ (85); 26th in slugging (.379); 25th in fWAR (1.7); and 24th in K% (20.3).

Meanwhile, individuals like Donaldson, Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu have all disappointed.

Casey, however, is confident that he can turn things around despite not having any major league coaching experience.

“One hundred percent,” Casey said. “I’ve been there. I’ve been there at a point where I’ve had underachieving first halves. I’ve had those struggles. I know I’m going to be able to tap into these guys and get their talent out. We’re too talented. This team is too talented. This team is loaded with professional hitters. I always think the back of the baseball card doesn’t lie. Eventually, we got to figure out a way to get it going. I feel like I’m the right guy to tap into these guys and get this cast hot in the second half.”


Casey said that he’s had some time to watch a few Yankees games and some film. He’s noticed “tension” during the at-bats, as well as lots of quick outs and easy innings for opposing pitchers.

“I know in this game, when you struggle, the anxiety kind of creeps in a little bit and you’re chasing a little bit more,” Casey said. “Maybe you’re swinging earlier than you would like because you kind of want to do so well.”

Casey said that he will preach “hunting the zone” and waiting for “pitches that we can handle.” He wants to see the team grind out at-bats and get to bullpens sooner.

“I’m seeing a lot of maybe five-, six-, seven-, eight-pitch innings,” Casey said. “From the outside looking in, I’m like, ‘That’s very unlike the Yankees. That is not the Yankee way. That is not the way these guys go about it.’”


Casey confirmed that his contract is for the rest of the season. Once it’s over, he and the Yankees will see where things stand.

Casey also said that the Yankees reached out to him over the winter about an assisting hitting coach vacancy, but the timing didn’t work due to some health complications within his family. His fiancée had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, while his father was recuperating from a second open-heart surgery.

“It just wasn’t the right time to do it,” Casey said. “I couldn’t do it back in February or January. I couldn’t commit to it. It’s a different season for me in my life right now. My dad’s home and he’s doing well, and my fiancée just finished up her radiation and she’s cancer free right now. It just seemed to work.”

Casey said the Yankees reignited their interest this past weekend. Aaron Boone, a teammate in Cincinnati, reached out to check on Casey’s fiancée, and to touch base about his possible availability.

“I feel like there was a kind of a seriousness in his voice,” Casey said. “We revisited it over the weekend, and then the ball just kind of got rolling. I said that if the opportunity presented itself for me to be the hitting coach of the Yankees, I would definitely be interested.”


Perhaps the biggest difference between Lawson and Casey is that the latter has big league playing experience. While plenty of great coaches haven’t played in the majors, Casey does see that as an advantage.

“When you get to the big leagues, there’s something about the mentality of it,” Casey said. “It’s a hard place to be — the ups and the downs, the guys that you’re facing out there every day.

“A lot of guys that I crossed paths with that had been in the big leagues that were coaches, I know that for me, that gave me some comfort.”


While Casey is new to his job, he believes that his time in the majors and at MLB Network prepared him to be an “incredible coach.” He said that he had to do hitting demonstrations on television, in addition to analyzing players and watching film.

“MLB Network has made me so ready for this job, no doubt about it,” Casey insisted. “I’ve basically been a coach for a long time. I’m excited.”

Casey added that his “biggest learning curve” will be understanding each hitter’s process in a quick manner.


Casey said that, from the time he was 15, he learned to hit from Frank Porco, an instructor from Pennsylvania. Casey grew up there.

And as for his favorite major league hitting coaches? That list includes former Yankees Ken Griffey Sr. and Chris Chambliss, as well as Don Slaught, Lloyd McClendon and Dave Magadan. Casey also credited Andy Van Slyke for helping him find success during the 2006 World Series, though Van Slyke wasn’t a hitting coach for Detroit.

“These guys have been there, done that,” Casey said, referring to the major league experience. “So they had big influences on my career.”


Casey also said that MLB Network and his playing career gave him an appreciation for and understanding of analytics, and that they don’t “intimidate” him.

He plans on balancing that data with a classic baseball mindset while catering to each hitter’s needs.

“I will come into it with my old school approach, but also my new school approach of analytics,” he said while noting that some players prefer simplicity. “You’d be crazy not to take the information.

“I don’t want to just give you all the information that you have and it’s like drinking out of a fire hose where you’re like, ‘Whoa, this is too much.’ I want to know what these guys need.”


Casey is aware of the tall task at hand, and he’s aware of the limited amount of time that he has. He also knows that expectations are high in the Bronx.

However, he doesn’t expect the entire lineup to just flip a switch upon his arrival.

“I’m not crazy enough to think that I’m going to come in and all of a sudden, all nine guys are going to start hitting because Sean Casey has arrived,” he said.

However, he believes that a championship is the only successful outcome in New York, and that’s what he’s working toward.

“We’re here to win a World Series,” Casey said. “I mean, that’s the bottom line. So anything less than that is a failure in New York and I understand that and I understand what that means. So yeah, I love the expectations. I love the chance to get these guys right and to be with them everyday and to give them as much confidence as possible to get their swings going and be one of the best offenses in baseball, and I welcome the challenge. I really do. Really looking forward to it.”


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