Former Major Leaguer Dennis Cook is the new head coach of the Swedish national team. The 47-year-old who pitched 15 years in the big leagues takes over for Kalle Knutsson. The Swedish Baseball and Softball Federation announced the signing on its website on Monday evening. Cook already worked together with the Swedish team during last year’s trip to Florida. It was also intended that he would serve as pitching coach during the Baseball World Cup, but other commitments made it impossible.
According to general manager Ulf Steinvall the federation was in contact with him for several years now since he has roots in Sweden. After Knutsson resigned in December Cook’s name quickly moved at the top of the candidate list. During the ABCA Convention in Dallas, Texas both sides talked and Steinvall knew that they had the right man for the job.
Cook made his MLB debut for the San Francisco Giants in 1988 and stayed in the big leagues until 2002, pitching also for eight other teams. He received two World Series rings during his career, one with the Florida Marlins in 1997 and another one with the Anaheim Angels in 2002. The left-handed journeyman had an ERA of 3.91 in 665 appearances (71 starts) overall.
The rest of the coaching staff for the Swedish national team is already completed. Cook will be joined by his fellow Texans Scott Scudder and Stephen Labay. The 41-year-old Scudder pitched five seasons in the MLB for the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Indians between 1989 and 1993, winning the World Series in 1990. The 48-year-old Labay was a pitcher in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system between 1984 and 1986. Nine-time Swedish champion Rickard Reimer, who retired following the Baseball World Cup, and Doug Skiles also will be on the staff.
Sweden is facing Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Croatia and Greece from July 23 to August 1 in Pool B of the European Championships in Germany. With this draw Cook also will meet his former teammate with the Mets Mike Piazza in the preliminary round, who is expected to serve as Italy’s hitting coach. Steinvall already has sent profiles for 47 potential players and DVDs of Sweden’s games at the Baseball World Cup to Texas, so the new coaches get a fast start into their assignment.
Photo: © Swedish Baseball and Softball Federation