James Rowson returns to Yankees as hitting coach after New York finished 29th in batting average

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NEW YORK (AP) — James Rowson, who developed a good relationship with Aaron Judge in the minor leagues, was hired Monday as the Yankees hitting coach after a season in which New York finished with the next-to-worst batting average in the major leagues.

Dillon Lawson was fired at the All-Star break after 1 1/2 seasons as hitting coach in New York’s first in-season coaching change since Nardi Contreras replaced Billy Connors as pitching coach in July 1995. Lawson was replaced by Sean Casey, who decided he didn't want to return for 2024.

Rowson, 47, was the hitting coach of Class A Tampa in 2006 and '07 and was the Yankees minor league hitting coordinator from 2008-11 and 2014-16, the last three years as Judge worked his way up the farm system.

Rowson left the Yankees to become the Chicago Cubs' minor league hitting coordinator in 2012, then was promoted to major league hitting coach from June 2012 through the 2013 season. He was the Minnesota Twins' hitting coach from 2017-19 and was the Miami Marlins' bench coach from 2020-22 when the team was managed by former Yankees captain Don Mattingly. Rowson was the Detroit Tigers' assistant hitting coach this year.

A native of Mount Vernon, New York, Rowson played in the minor league systems of the Seattle Mariners (1995-96) and Yankees (1997) and independent ball in 1998. He coached in the Angels' system at rookie level Provo (2002) and at Class A Cedar Rapids (2003) and Rancho Cucamonga (2004-05).

New York hit .227 this year, ahead of only Oakland's .223 and the third-lowest in Yankees history behind .214 in 1968 and .225 in 1967. The Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and at 82-80 narrowly avoided what would have been their first losing season since 1992. Owner Hal Steinbrenner called the season “awful” and general manager Brian Cashman termed it “a disaster.”

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB