After 37 years, Mike Jirschele finally got the call to the major leagues.
The Royals on Friday added Jirschele and Don Wakamatsu as coaches as the team finalized its staff for the 2014 season, and it has been a long time coming for Jirschele.
Jirschele was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 1977 and eventually spent parts of six seasons in Class AAA, but he never made it to the majors. He was a player-coach in 1990 at the Royals’ Class A affiliate before retiring as a player.
In 1992, Jirschele got his first managerial job with the Royals’ Gulf Coast League team. He worked his way up to Class AAA Omaha, where he was manager from 1995-97, then worked as an infield instructor in the Royals minor-league system. Jirschele returned to Omaha in 2003 and managed the Storm Chasers the next 11 seasons.
“Anybody, whether you’re a player in the minor leagues or you’re a staff member in the minor leagues,” Jirschele said, “your goal is to continue to work hard and hopefully you get an opportunity to get named to a big-league staff.
“I’ve been in the minor leagues a long time. I’m just very fortunate and happy to get the opportunity to help the big-league staff.”
Jirschele, who will have the title of major-league coach with the Royals, managed the Storm Chasers to the Triple-A Championship this past season as well as the Pacific Coast League title for the second time in the last three years. He has also won three straight Northern Division titles in the Pacific Coast League.
Many of the Royals, including Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Greg Holland, played for Jirschele at Omaha. Jirschele had 1,208 career victories at the minor-league level, including 995 at Omaha.
Jirschele said his role with the Royals will be varied.
“(Manager Ned Yost) pretty much said I’ll be doing a lot of different things, where ever needed,” Jirschele said. “My background has been infield. Hopefully I can help with the infield when he needs it and help on the bench during the course of the game and possibly help some with the offense in the cages.”
The Royals’ new bench coach is Wakamatsu, who also will be a catching instructor.
Wakamatsu was the Mariners’ manager in 2009 and most of 2010, compiling a 127-147 record. He was the first Asian-American manager in Major League Baseball history.
After being fired by the Mariners, Wakamatsu was the Blue Jays’ bench coach in 2011-12, where he worked with John Farrell, now the Red Sox manager.
This past season, Wakamatsu was in the Yankees’ scouting department.
Wakamatsu will replace Chino Cadahia, who was dismissed after the season.
The additions of Wakamatsu and Jirschele mean the Royals will have three new coaches in 2014. Former Cubs manager Dale Sveum, who was added to the Royals’ staff on Oct. 3, will serve as third base coach and also oversee infield instruction.
Sveum replaces Eddie Rodriguez, who was dismissed as third base coach after the season.
The rest of Yost’s coaching staff includes returnees Dave Eiland (pitching), Pedro Grifol (hitting), Rusty Kuntz (first base/outfield/baserunning) and Doug Henry (bullpen). Head athletic trainer Nick Kenney and the entire training staff will also return in 2014.