TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Rachel Balkovec, the first-ever female manager for a Minor League Baseball team, will make her debut on Friday when the Tampa Tarpons play the Lakeland Flying Tigers.
Balkovec will attend the game—scheduled to begin at 6:35 p.m. Friday at the Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium—after missing her first spring training game due to a facial injury.
The 34-year-old joined the Yankees organization as a hitting coach in 2019, making her the first woman with that job full-time in affiliated baseball. She got her first position in pro ball with the St. Louis Cardinals as a minor league strength and conditioning coach in 2012.
Balkovec, a former softball catcher at Creighton University and the University of New Mexico, moved from the Cardinals to the Houston Astros in 2016. She was hired as the Latin American strength and conditioning coordinator, a position for which she learned Spanish, and later became the strength and conditioning coach at Double-A Corpus Christi.
She briefly left baseball in 2018 to pursue a second master’s degree at Vrije University in the Netherlands, where she also worked with the country’s national baseball and softball teams. She then worked for Driveline Baseball, a data-driven baseball center that has trained numerous major leaguers, before being hired by New York.
“I view my path as an advantage,” she told The Associated Press in 2019. “I had to do probably much more than maybe a male counterpart, but I like that because I’m so much more prepared for the challenges that I might encounter.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.