BRADENTON, Fla. — Heading into the new season, second baseman Dan Gamache is hoping that his long-time mentor can help be the difference for him this year.
Gamache was hitting with a bit of pop in his bat Tuesday afternoon as he took part in Pittsburgh Pirates minor league spring training camp in Brandenton, Fla.
Besides his parents being a huge help in getting him to where he is now – likely starting the season with the Bradenton Marauders of the Class-A Advanced Florida State League – Gamache praises the guidance that he has received from his hitting coach of 15 years.
“Definitely my parents putting in the hours driving everywhere, and I have a coach back home that I’ve been with since I was eight,” says Gamache. “His name is Jon Burke; he has a hitting facility out of Rhode Island. It’s a very good facility. Mechanics-wise, he knows my swing better than anybody.”
The Newport, R.I., native received his first lesson from Burke before his age even reached double digits, when he attended an event that Burke was putting on for kids. Ultimately, it was Gamache’s father who was very impressed by what he saw from Burke and his teachings.
“I went to a clinic and my dad noticed that he really liked to work with the kids and he asked if he would teach me how to hit,” says Gamache. “Then he started his own business.”
Burke was a designated hitter and outfielder who spent his time playing college ball at the Community College of Rhode Island in 1992, where he lead the team with a .394 average, and with Florida’s Eckerd College where in his junior and senior years he led the school in hits. He also ranks among Eckerd’s top-five hitters of all time.
The majority of Burke’s professional playing time came in the Newport Sunset League. It was there that the future coach took home the league’s batting title four times. Burke now resides at the East Bay Baseball Academy, the facility that he founded and operates out of Bristol, RI.
For Gamache, this winter finally gave him the chance to get back to the facility.
“This off-season I had a chance to work there,” says the slugger. “It was the first off-season back home.”
Gamache’s hitting numbers over the past two seasons have not been ideal, including a .258 average last year, which could suggest why the middle infielder made sure to see Burke during the off-season.
He looks to improve his numbers and in the end he believes it could be the simplicities that will get him to where he wants to be.
“Just be ready every day, have a good mental approach and don’t take any at-bats off,” he said.