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A big league promotion

USF keeps gaining prominence throughout the sports world.

First-year manager Joe Girardi named former Bull Dave Eiland pitching coach of the New York Yankees after coaching five seasons in the minor leagues.

“It’s an honor and a privilege, and something that I’m very much looking forward to,” Eiland said in a press release. “I’m very anxious to get started.”

Eiland was promoted from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre where he held the same position. He replaces Ron Guidry, who spent the past three years as New York’s pitching coach.

Originally attending college at Florida, Eiland was part of the first recruiting class former USF coach Eddie Cardieri assembled in 1986.

“The first thing that comes to my mind is that he had four big-league pitches when he walked on our campus – I remember that vividly,” Cardieri, whose tenure (1986-2006) was the longest in Bulls history, said. “You don’t see that many guys with that type of command of four pitches at that age.”

Serving as both an outstanding pitcher and an accomplished hitter, Eiland spent two seasons (1986-87) at USF before being drafted by the Yankees in the seventh round of the 1987 draft.

Eiland spent 10 years in the major leagues with the Yankees, San Diego Padres and the Tampa Bay Rays before retiring in 2000.

On April 10, 1992, as a member of the Padres, Eiland became the ninth pitcher in major league history to hit a home run in his first career plate appearance, connecting off of a pitch from Bob Ojeda of the Dodgers.

As both a starter and a reliever, Eiland appeared in 92 games, starting 70, and finished with a record of 12-27 and a 4.37 ERA.

“He’s a very solid person, and I think that’s a quality anyone would look for,” Cardieri said. “Dave is one of the finest guys I’ve ever coached. He paid his dues, pitching in the big leagues for a long time, and now is known for being a good teacher.”

Following his career as a player, Eiland served one-year stints as a minor league pitching coach within the Yankee organization, starting with Gulf Coast (2003) and Staten Island (2004).

Before joining Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he coached the Trenton (N.J.) Thunder, a minor league team, for two seasons.

With New York playing its final season in Yankee Stadium, Eiland knows there will be pressure on him to help the team bring its first World Series Championship since 2000.

One advantage he has over other potential candidates is having already coached Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, two starting pitchers expected to improve a team with a combined ERA of 4.49, 17th in the majors.

His job may be easier if New York is able to land Minnesota Twins ace Johan Santana, but Eiland is ready to play with the staff he has now.

“I feel these three guys (including Joba Chamberlain) are going to be mainstays on that Yankees staff for many years to come,” Eiland said. “Just knowing where these three young men stand with this organization, it’s not going to be easy to pry any one of those three away from them.”

The addition of Eiland only strengthens the relationship between the Yankees and USF.

Bulls assistant coach Tino Martinez played with the Yankees for seven seasons and helped the team win four World Series titles.

“I have great friends over there,” USF coach Lelo Prado said. “The Steinbrenner family has always been good to me, and I have nothing but great things to say about the Yankees. Now, with Dave there, our relationship is now that much stronger.”