Braves first base coach Eric Young Sr. has decided to step away from his role for the 2020 season, manager Brian Snitker told reporters (including Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). Young is reportedly a higher-risk candidate for COVID-19, though as Burns notes, the team didn’t disclose the specifics of the 53-year-old Young’s health situation.
Young has been Atlanta’s first base coach for the last two seasons, and has six prior years of first base coaching experience with the Diamondbacks and Rockies before joining the Braves organization. Of course, Young is probably best remembered for his 15-season playing career, which saw him rack up 465 steals (tied for 48th in baseball history) playing with seven different teams from 1992-2006. Young’s son, Eric Jr., is also a ten-year MLB veteran.
“It was a tough decision for [Young]. He’s a gamer,” Snitker said. “We’ll miss him dearly because of what he brings inside this clubhouse, the energy. He’s chosen to opt out, we respect that. I respect him even more for doing that and (being with) his family.”
DeMarlo Hale will step into Young’s role as the first base and outfielders coach. Hale joined the Braves as a special assistant and minor league coach last season, and he has a long relationship with GM Alex Anthopoulos from their time together in Toronto (when Hale was the Blue Jays’ bench coach and Anthopoulos was the general manager). Young will continue to work with the team in a consulting role, with Snitker saying that Young “will be available for the club (virtually). He’ll be in constant communication with DeMarlo and the outfielders.”