Longhorns hire former major leaguer as assistant coach

By Clint Hale Daily Texan

AUSTIN, Texas (U-WIRE) -- The moment pitching coach Frank Anderson left Austin, Texas, to become the new head coach at Oklahoma State, a reshuffling of the coaching staff was in order. Monday, the new lineup came to fruition.

Dennis Cook, a former standout for the Longhorns in the 1980s and a well-traveled former major league pitcher, was introduced as the new volunteer assistant coach for Texas, while former Oklahoma State skipper Tom Holliday was formally welcomed as the Longhorns' new pitching coach. Tommy Harmon, a fixture on manager Augie Garrido's staff for many years, was promoted to associate head coach.

"I remember Dennis mostly for beating Cal State-Fullerton in the bottom of the ninth inning in 1984 with a two-run double," said Garrido, who managed the Titans before assuming head coaching duties at Texas. "But we expect good things out of him, and we hope that he can really help out our young pitching staff."

Cook will assist Holliday in tutoring one of the top rotations in college baseball, led by such stars as Huston Street, J.P. Howell and J. Brent Cox, three players who could make up a surprising starting group for the Longhorns in 2004.

Street, arguably the top closer in the country, and Cox, who emerged as a premier set-up man late last season, are being discussed as potential starters for the upcoming campaign, Holliday said.

"We've had a cup of coffee or two about moving Huston into the starting rotation," he said. "He's the best closer in the nation, so we'd like to keep him there, but we've talked about it after seeing him throw almost nine innings in the Pan American Games."

Holliday brings much-needed expertise to Texas, having served as the pitching coach of a Cowboys' team that played in 14 College World Series during his 19-year tenure prior to his promotion as head coach.

And with Cook there to back Holliday up, Garrido says fans should expect an upgrade on a staff that was already one of the best in the competitive Big 12 Conference.

"We expect both Tom and Dennis to interact very well with our young players," Garrido said. "With both of them on our staff, it gives us that much better of a chance to win ballgames."

Cook, who retired after playing the 2002 season with the World Series champion Anaheim Angels, starred with Texas before beginning his professional playing career.

He was two-year letter winner for the Longhorns as both a left-handed pitcher and outfielder from 1984-85, and was two-time All-Southwest Conference selection. He posted a .351 career batting average, which ranks 12th in school history, and posted a 9-1 career record with a 3.33 earned run average in 94.1 innings of work.

Cook was taken by the San Francisco Giants in the 18th round of the 1985 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft and was called up to the majors after a two-year stint in the minor leagues.

And thanks to a resume that includes nine major league ball clubs and over 15 years of professional experience to his credit, Cook feels he is on his way to one day managing a team himself.

"I still have a lot of schooling to go, so obviously I'm not even close to where I need to be," said Cook, who will wear No. 27 for the Longhorns, the same number he donned during his playing days in Austin. "But learning from Augie, Tommy and Tom Holliday, hopefully I'll gain the experience I need and improve my teaching skills."

Texas begins its four-week practice schedule Sept. 29 at Disch-Falk Field.

(C) 2003 Daily Texan via U-WIRE.

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