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Hot Stove Baseball

NY Native Iapoce Thrilled To Be Back In Bronx

By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com, 06/27/16, 1:00PM EDT

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Rangers hitting coach played at Yankee Stadium as high schooler in 1991

NEW YORK -- Rangers hitting coach Anthony Iapoce, who is from New York City, was last at Yankee Stadium in 2014 for one day as the Cubs' roving hitting instructor.

Prior to that it was June 10, 1991, when he helped Monsignor McClancy of Queens defeat Xaverian of Brooklyn, 3-2, for the Catholic High Schools Athletic Association championship game. Iapoce was playing center field for McClancy and was 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored.

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So it was a big deal for the Queens native to return to Yankee Stadium on Monday in his first season as the Rangers' hitting coach.

"It means everything," Iapoce said. "That day we got to play here, walking off and seeing family and friends, you always think about how to get back on that field in uniform.

"Other than that visit as a rover with the Cubs, it has been [25] years. I grew up going to games here. Astoria is right down the road. The Mets at Shea Stadium, whoever was in town."

His dad Tony will lead a large contingent of family and friends, with over 75 planning to show up on Monday alone. One of them will be Anthony Sylvester, who did the pitching in the 1991 championship game for McClancy.

"That will be pretty cool," Iapoce said.

Iapoce is riding high in his return.

The Rangers entered Monday with the best record in the American League and they were third in runs scored. Being that high in runs scored is significant because the Rangers were fifth with a .267 team batting average, eighth with a .324 on-base percentage and seventh with a .430 slugging percentage.

"They are built to win," Iapoce said. "With this group, it's not about stats, it's about playing for the guy behind you and picking each other up. We have a bunch of guys playing unselfish baseball, and when you do that, you find a way to score runs."

The Rangers were doing some things right. They went into Monday's game hitting .288 with runners in scoring position, second best in the league, and they had the fewest runners left on base. They also led the league with 28 sacrifice flies and were third in the league in two-out runs.

"We are capitalizing on our scoring opportunities," manager Jeff Banister said. "It's our overall approach. We made it a point of emphasis in Spring Training and now you see it during the season."

Toning down Perez

The Rangers want pitcher Martin Perez to become less demonstrative on the mound, especially when it comes to reacting to umpire calls behind the plate.

"We do that every day," Banister said. "Not just him but other guys, if we see anything besides a competitive body language. Body language is a reaction if you don't get a pitch called or don't get a strike call.

"I don't want anybody to be a robot. There is a difference between emotion and personality. It can be a derailer and a distraction if you let too much [emotion] happen. You don't want to take away who he is as a pitcher, but he can direct that in a different way. It's an energy that doesn't need to be spent."