Texas Longhorns head coach David Pierce isn’t wasting any time replacing longtime volunteer assistant Phil Haig, as Inside Texas reported on Thursday that former New York Yankees and Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will replace Haig.
The school confirmed the news in a statement not long thereafter.
The news comes on the same day that Tulowitzki announced his retirement from Major League Baseball at age 34 following several injuries that have limited his time on the field recently, including a strained left calf that limited him to only five games for the Yankees this season. Tulowitzki also missed the entirety of the 2018 season.
“For as long as I can remember, my dream was to compete at the highest level as a Major League Baseball player ... to wear a big league uniform and play hard for my teammates and the fans,” Tulowitzki said in a statement. “I will forever be grateful for every day that I’ve had to live out my dream. It has been an absolute honor.
”I will always look back with tremendous gratitude for having the privilege of playing as long as I did. There is no way to truly express my gratitude to the fans of Colorado, Toronto and New York. They always made my family and I feel so welcome.”
Tulowitzki ends his incredibly successful career as a .290 hitter who made five All-Star appearances and won two Gold Gloves at shortstop, so he’ll likely have a different role than Haig, who was a former college pitcher who drew praise from Longhorns players for his work with the staff.
“Tulo and I had an opportunity to spend some time together and I came away so impressed with his desire to teach and his excitement to become a part of Texas Baseball,” Pierce said. “Longhorn legends Huston Street and Drew Stubbs gave great endorsements on Tulo’s behalf. His knowledge goes without saying but his passion and energy for the development of young men left such a meaningful impression on me. He will be a great addition to our staff. I am excited to have Troy, his wife Danyll and their son Taz join The University of Texas Baseball program.”
Expect Pierce to take on a larger role working with the pitching staff, as he has a background in that area after serving as the pitching coach for Rice from 2006-11, but it’s assistant Sean Allen who is now officially the pitching coach on the staff.
“Coach Allen is a baseball man,” Pierce said. “He has a history of coaching pitchers and the demeanor for handling a pitching staff. I believe it’s always about coaching the individual’s needs and understanding how each pitcher learns their craft. Sean understands that and knows what it takes to compete in the Big XII as well. He has an intuitive feel for the players he coaches and will be great with the analytics of pitching and continuing each player’s development. Our pitching staff and team just got better with Sean’s transition to the pitching coach.”
Allen last held a role as a pitching coach for FIU from 2008 to 2011. During that stretch, the Panthers led the conference in strikeouts and fewest walks allowed, then won the Sun Belt title the following season behind the league’s best ERA. FIU advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2011.
Look for Tulowitzki to focus on fielding and hitting, two areas where Texas struggled last season, particularly at shortstop following the injury to David Hamilton.
Credit Pierce for making a potential impact hire of a former MLB star who checks all the boxes as a coach. Just don’t expect Tulowitzki to be a volunteer assistant for long.