Brian McRae out, Todd Haney in as HarbourCats coach

It’s Haney at the helm.

The Victoria HarbourCats have exchanged one former major leaguer for another as head coach of the West Coast League baseball team.

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Assistant coach Todd Haney, who played parts of five seasons in the majors from 1992 to 1998, is being elevated to replace 10-season MLB player Brian McRae.

McRae is leaving the organization after compiling a two-season record of 56-52 as head coach and taking the HarbourCats to within one game of the 2017 WCL playoff title.

“Brian [McRae] was unable to fulfil his role this summer. We thank him for what he did for us over two seasons,” said HarbourCats GM and managing-partner Jim Swanson.

Swanson would not elaborate.

The WCL is a summer league in which NCAA Div. 1 players and other collegians extend their seasons when school is out.

The 53-year-old Haney came out of the University of Texas Longhorns and was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 1987 before playing second base in the MLB for the Montreal Expos, Chicago Cubs and New York Mets and finishing with a .244 batting average, three home runs, 12 RBIs and .979 fielding percentage in 101 MLB games.

“Our goal in Victoria will be to win the championship and play hard and hustle,” said Haney, from NCAA Div. 1 Texas State University in San Marcos, where he is director of player development for the Bobcats of the Sun Belt Conference.

“Players come into summer ball hungry for information and development and to get better to move on to the next level and to pro ball. They learn how to handle themselves, and the day-to-day travel grind, while playing in front of pro scouts. The WCL is one of the top summer leagues in North America for that.”

Swanson said he had no hesitation in elevating Haney, after one season as assistant, once it became known McRae would not be returning.

“Todd Haney will do an amazing job and be an excellent head coach,” said Swanson.

“Todd brought a professional approach and tremendous teaching skills to our group last year, and it will be a smooth transition because he’s spent a season with us in the WCL already. The players connected with him very well and he was a big part of the development we saw on our roster in 2018. We’re fortunate to have him.”

Haney has been signed to a two-year deal.

The Expos, and Victoria last season, weren’t his first taste of baseball in Canada. Haney played minor-pro in Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

“Canada has very knowledgeable fans who understand baseball and love watching the game,” he said.

Last year on the Victoria bench was especially memorable for Haney because his son Tanner, now a freshman with the Texas Longhorns, played for the HarbourCats.

The HarbourCats’ 2019 WCL season opener is June 4 in Wenatchee, Washington, against the AppleSox. The home opener is June 7 against the Corvallis Knights at Royal Athletic Park.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

Twitter.com/tc_vicsports

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