LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Athletics manager Bob Geren often wondered whatever happened to Ty Van Burkleo, who was named Monday as the team's new hitting coach. Geren said he recalled meeting Van Burkleo nearly 16 years ago while on a cruise off the coast of California. "We ran into each other in the gym and I could tell he was a ballplayer," Geren said. "We started talking. I had just started the offseason and he had just returned from Japan. We talked back-and-forth for a while, but after a few years, I sort of lost track of him."
It was during last week's interview process in selecting his first big-league coaching staff that the familiar name came back to Geren. "Our front office people kept hearing his name and I started asking around," Geren said. "He came up [to Oakland] a couple of times and it was just one those things that clicked. We were so impressed that we went with him."
Van Burkleo spent the past six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as the Minor League roving hitting instructor."The Angels have had a lot of good, young hitters and everyone we talked to said Ty had a lot to do with that," said David Forst, the Athletics assistant general manager. "He was very impressive in the interviews and brings some youth and energy to our staff." Van Burkleo, 44, played professionally for 14 years, reaching the Major Leagues with the Angels in 1993 and Colorado Rockies in 1994. He batted .152 with one home run in 12 games with the Angels and was 0-for-5 with the Rockies. He also played for the Seibu Lions (1987-90) and Hiroshima (1991), earning Player of the Year honors in 1988 after hitting .268 with 38 home runs and 90 RBIs. Asked if there was anything about his philosophy that impressed him, Geren said it was Van Burkleo's overall approach to hitting and how well it matched what the Athletics like to do. "It seemed like he was into some of the technology wigth breaking swings down on computers and had some impressive statistical numbers he did on some of his hitters with the Angels. He hit on all the things that we work on here."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.