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Rachel Balkovec, hired by the New York Yankees as the first woman to manage a minor league affiliate of a Major League Baseball team, was hit in the face by a batted ball during a drill and will be sidelined for up to a week.
Balkovec was struck Tuesday. She will not be available for her first scheduled spring training game Thursday with Class A Tampa.
The 34-year-old Balkovec didn’t sustain a concussion but has facial swelling, the Yankees said Wednesday. She was involved in a hitting drill in an indoor cage at the minor league complex when she was hurt.
Balkovec has been instructed by team doctors to rest for the next five to seven days. She will be re-examined after the swelling goes down.
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“All things considered, I feel very fortunate,” Balkovec said in a statement. “The doctors have asked me to be smart about limiting my activities over the next several days, and I plan on following their guidance. As much as I already miss being around the players and staff, I do not anticipate this affecting my role and responsibilities for the regular season.”
Balkovec is scheduled to manage her first regular-season game on April 8 at Lakeland.
Balkovec has broken several barriers on her way to the position. She was the first woman to serve as a full-time minor league strength and conditioning coach, then the first to be a full-time hitting coach in the minors with the Yankees.
The Yankees announced her hiring as a minor league manager in January.
Balkovec, a former softball catcher at Creighton and New Mexico, got her first job in professional baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals as a minor league strength and conditioning coach in 2012.
Balkovec joined the Houston Astros in 2016. She was hired as the Latin American strength and conditioning coordinator and later was the strength and conditioning coach at Double-A Corpus Christi.
She joined the Yankees organization as a minor league hitting coach in 2019.