The Yankees announced Thursday that first base coach/outfield instructor Reggie Willits has stepped down from his role to join the University of Oklahoma’s baseball program as a volunteer assistant coach.
“I want to thank Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone and the Steinbrenner family for the opportunity to work for such a world-class organization,” Willits said in a statement within this morning’s press release. “I’ve cherished my time with the Yankees and I’ve grown professionally and personally because of the bonds that have I’ve formed with so many players, coaches and staff. It’s been a challenging personal decision to make. I’m leaving a team and organization I’ve loved being a part of, but I’m returning home to be closer to my family and to work for a program I have deep ties to and great respect for.”
The departure of Willits further adds to the looming turnover on Boone’s staff. While the skipper himself signed a new three-year contract earlier this week, the Yankees have already dismissed hitting coach Marcus Thames, assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere and third base coach Phil Nevin. There’s no indication that Willits was on the chopping block himself, but the Oklahoma native will now have a chance to work with his alma mater and be closer to family after seven seasons with the Yankees organization.
A former big league outfielder himself, the 40-year-old Willits was hired by the Yankees as their minor league outfield and baserunning coordinator prior to the 2015 season. He held that role for three years before being promoted to Major League first base coach and outfield instructor prior to the 2018 season.