Brian McRae, the former MLB player entering his second year as Head Coach of the Victoria HarbourCats of the West Coast League, has named his coaching staff for the 2018 season.
Headlining the staff additions, for the sixth season of HarbourCats baseball at Royal Athletic Park, is former MLB infielder Todd Haney, who played parts of five seasons with the Expos, Cubs and Mets. The 52-year-old from Galveston, Texas, hit .244 with three home runs in 101 games played, mostly as a second baseman. Haney and McRae played together at Wrigley Field with the Cubs, and with the Mets at Shea Stadium. Haney played one season for the single-A Bellingham Mariners, and his minor pro experience included stops in Calgary, Ottawa and Tacoma. He was a Mariners draft choice in 1987.
Also named to the staff today – returning as Assistant Coaches are Jason Leone, who works at an NAIA school Indiana-Kokomo, and Troy Birtwistle, a Victoria product who joins Leone for a second season.
Not returning, due to his increased coaching and academy involvement in his native San Diego, is 2017 Pitching Coach Mike Spears. The new Pitching Coach is 34-year-old Ian Sanderson, who serves as pitching coach of Lower Columbia College Red Devils of the junior college NWAC loop, located in Longview, WA, home of the Cowlitz Black Bears. Sanderson has extensive summer baseball Pitching Coach experience, working for the Gresham Greywolves of the WCL (2016) and Fort McMurray Giants of the Western Major Baseball League (2017).
“We thank Mike for all he did for us last summer, and we’ll stay in close contact and watch him do great work for San Diego Christian (NAIA) and his Next Level Pitching Academy – we’re sorry he can’t return,” said Jim Swanson, Managing Partner of the HarbourCats.
“It’s always an exciting project to put the coaching staff together, and we get a lot of interest in being part of this program. To have two MLB players on our staff, joining Troy and Jason, and adding someone with the summer ball background of Ian, is a great mix as we go into what should be an exciting 2018 season.”
McRae, who led the team to the playoffs and to within a game of the WCL championship in his first year with the HarbourCats, is entering the final year of his two-season contract. The HarbourCats were 29-25 in 2017, the team’s third-straight winning season, and second year in the post-season.
“Brian and I have talked about extending his contract, he enjoys Victoria and coaching in front of our fans,” said Swanson. “I’m aware that a person like Brian, with his playing and coaching experience, will also be talked about for jobs at the college and pro level, so we are fortunate to have him here leading our team, bringing a pro-style environment that helps players prepare for the next level. Adding Todd will only enhance that.”
2018 COACHING STAFF, VICTORIA HARBOURCATS
Head Coach – Brian McRae (second season)
Pitching Coach – Ian Sanderson (first season)
Assistant Coaches – Todd Haney (first season), Jason Leone (second season), Troy Birtwistle (second season)
GREAT TEACHERS CONTEST
The HarbourCats continue to take nominations for the Great Teachers Contest, sponsored by Mayfair Optometric Clinic. The winner for October will be announced next week.
Each month until May, the HarbourCats will select a teacher, whose class will be guests of Mayfair Optometric Clinic at the team’s annual School Spirit Game – a day-game in June, date to be announced when the West Coast League schedule is released, perhaps as soon as next week.
To nominate a great teacher, email a submission to firstname.lastname@example.org
SEASON TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE
The HarbourCats have seen an uptick in season ticket purchases, and as corporate partnerships are completed, the selection of season ticket locations and single-game walkup options is getting less and less. Seats in the Diamond Club, the two-year-old on-field section are sold out, but there remain available seats in the padded/served Campbell Real Estate Club Section, and in the Main Grandstand.
With the off-season now upon us, the team’s office at 101-1814 Vancouver Street will see reduced hours through the end of the year.
MONDAY-FRIDAY – Noon-6pm
SATURDAY-SUNDAY – Closed (Except by appointment)
Brad Norris-Jones (General Manager, Victoria HarbourCats) 250-888-2003
Jim Swanson (Managing Partner, Victoria HarbourCats) 778-265-0327
About the West Coast League
The West Coast League features a competitive level of play and recruits players from high-calibre baseball programs at colleges and universities across North America. The WCL has 11 teams, with franchises located in B.C., Washington and Oregon. The 54-game regular season for 2018 starts on June 1 and runs through August 8, with playoffs following that. The HarbourCats have led the WCL in attendance for four-straight years, setting both regular season and playoff single-game attendance marks, and full-season attendance records. The HarbourCats have made the playoffs in successive seasons, advancing to the WCL final in 2017 in the first year under Head Coach Brian McRae. The HarbourCats have helped more than 20 players reach professional baseball, with Nick Pivetta (Phillies) rising to pitch in the Major Leagues in 2017.