Thursday update: A day after Al Leyva was fired at Damien, Mt. SAC and former South Hills coach Kevin Smith added Leyva to his staff at Mt. SAC as an assistant ….. The speculation that former Bishop Amat coach Andy Nieto could take over at Damien just multiplied following today’s news that, Long Beach State Baseball Hall of Famer, Don Barbara, has been hired as the new head coach at St. John Bosco. Nieto was finalist for St. John Bosco, but who knows, maybe he pulled out of the running now that Damien position is available. Stay tuned.
Wednesday’s Breaking News: Damien athletic director Jeff Grant said the school has parted ways with baseball coach Al Leyva and that an immediate search for a new coach has started. Damien will accept applications through June 27.
Leyva was 107-61 in six seasons at Damien, but never won a league championship. His best year was his first in 2009 when Damien finished 21-9 and advanced to the CIF-SS Division 2 semifinals. Damien was 17-10 this past season, finished in a tie for third in the Sierra League and was ousted in the first round of the playoffs.
“There wasn’t a single incident or something that led to this,” Grant said. “It’s a combination of small things and at the end of the day we wanted to move in a different direction.”
That different direction could be former Bishop Amat baseball coach Andy Nieto, who resigned at Bishop Amat last week after winning his fourth championship in eight years. Nieto has a close relationship with Damien principal Dr. Merritt Hemenway, who was previously the principal at Bishop Amat and who hired Nieto to take over the Amat baseball program.
Nieto has been rumored to be interested in St. John Bosco, but with Damien becoming available it could change things.
Grant admitted that Nieto and Hemenway are close, and Nieto always has said he has a lot of respect and admiration for his former principal.
“We’re opening the job for any and all applicants,” Grant said. “Obviously coach Nieto is no longer employed and he’s more than welcome to apply. But this is not a situation where the jobs already been promised to anyone.”