Coaching The Kansas City Royals Part 2-The Bench Coach

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By: X. Grieves

Continuing our breakdown of The Kansas City Royals coaches, we come to our bench coach, Don Wakamatsu.  Wilber Donald “Don” Wakamatsu became The Royals bench coach and catching instructor in October 2013. Previously, Wakamatsu served as the bench coach for The Toronto Blue Jays in 2011-2012 and Manager of The Seattle Mariners in 2009 and part of 2010. Wakamatsu holds the distinction of being the first Asian-American to ever manage a Major League Baseball team. Don playing career was a relatively short one. He spent most of his eleven years playing in the minor leagues of various teams. Don only played eighteen games in the majors as a backup catcher for The Chicago White Sox in 1991.

So, now you know a little about Wakamatsu’s previous coaching and playing career, but as a bench coach, what does Don do? If you have every wondered how a manager keeps all of the information about the opposing team straight in his head, wonder no longer. He is helped by his trusty bench coach. The position of a bench coach is pretty new. As a matter of fact, the first bench coach was Bob Schaffer in 1991 for John Wathan right here in Kansas City. Bench coaches serve many roles i.e. filling out lineup cards and knowing all there is to know about the opponent’s players, but most importantly they act as a technical adviser to their manager. Bench coaches will often discuss statistics and strategy with the manager throughout the game setting up the defense and offense. Many managers leave the positioning of defensive players up to the bench coach. It’s also not unusual for a bench coach to chart balls put into play. Finally, if the manager is unable to attend or gets tossed from a game, the bench coach serves as interim manager-unless you’re Bobby Valentine who famously returned to coach a game wearing a mustache. So, the next time you’re watching a Royals game, pay close attention to Don Wakamatsu, it very well be him making some of the calls that lead to the next Royal victory.

In the next installment we will cover The Royals pitching coach, Dave Eiland and bullpen coach Doug Henry.

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