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New hitting instructor Duncan brings winning ways to K-Mets

Kevin Mays • Jun 14, 2019 at 1:03 AM

KINGSPORT — Mariano Duncan has a storied career as a baseball player and coach.

He played in the major leagues from 1985-1997.

His MLB career includes World Series championships with the Cincinnati Reds in 1990 and New York Yankees in 1996 and a National League championship with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1993.

He has coached baseball in both the major and minor leagues since 2003.

This summer he will be working as the hitting instructor for the New York Mets’ rookie league team: the Kingsport Mets.

And that’s just what he wanted.

“When I interviewed with the New York Mets, I told them I didn’t want to work on the major league level this year,” Duncan said of his new job. “I love being right where I’m at. I love hitting and I love teaching hitting. I love the challenge of teaching young players how to prepare themselves for the future. How to get better. This is where they need you the most and this where I like to be.”

ALWAYS A WINNER

Duncan knows the Appalachian League’s rookie-league level is where emphasis is put on player development and improvement. But, like most professional athletes, Duncan’s competitive edge also wants the K-Mets winning games as they develop this season.

“I’ve always been a winner, as a player and as a coach,” said Duncan. “I hate to lose.”

Duncan started playing in MLB in 1985 with the Los Angeles Dodgers before being traded to the Reds in 1989, along with Tim Leary, for Lenny Harris and Kal Daniels.

The next year, Duncan was on a Reds roster, including Barry Larkin, Eric Davis and Paul O’Neill among others, that won the World Series.

When Larkin was selected to the MLB Hall of Fame, Duncan was the first person to contact him and give him the news.

“I called him to congratulate him and he said, ‘How do you know?’ “ Duncan recalled. “I just knew a lot of people in baseball, and I found out in the Dominican Republic about it and called him even before the committee called.”

Duncan said he still stays in touch with several of his former teammates.

He also played on the Dodgers with Cesar Cedeno, whom he describes as his baseball hero.

“I played with him on the Dodgers in his last year. That was a great year,” Duncan said.

In 1993, Duncan won the National League pennant as a member of the Phillies.

He played for the Yankees for a full season in 1996 and won another World Series ring.

Duncan retired as a player after another year in the majors, with the Toronto Blue Jays, and one in Japanese professional baseball with the Yomiuri Giants.

REUNITED WITH THE MANAGER

Duncan is entering his 18th year as a baseball coach, including five in the major leagues as a first base coach with the Dodgers.

During the coaching run with the Dodgers, the team’s third-base coach was Rich Donnelly, who is serving this year as the K-Mets manager.

“We worked together for a while and we said maybe we will work together some other time. And now, here we are,” said Duncan. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do with this team. We’re excited to get started.”

READY TO ROLL

The K-Mets are scheduled to arrive in Kingsport Friday and begin their season on Tuesday at Greeneville.

Kingsport’s home opener is scheduled for Thursday at Hunter Wright Stadium against the same Greeneville squad.

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