SOUTH BEND — Mark Haley has many friends in baseball.
In nearly 40 years around the game as a college player then professional coach and manager, Haley has forged countless relationships.
After a decade as a manager of the Class-A Midwest League's South Bend Silver Hawks, Haley — or "Hales" as his friends know him — will call on his baseball buddies in his new role as director of training and instruction for the South Bend Cubs Performance Center.
Haley will run the facility — aka the "Cubs Cage" — by setting up programs and hiring instructors to teach baseball to area youth while also creating an environment for Chicago Cubs minor leagues to improve.
There will be six cages — two dedicated to the South Bend Cubs and others available to travel and Little League players and the general public. Pitching machines will be automated.
"We've got so many resources," said Haley. "These baseball developmental people are my friends. If a kid's got a problem with his swing, we'll get it figured out.
"What makes us unique is that we can have a professional hitter, maybe a major league hitter down on a rehab assignment, and seven feet over there's an 8-year-old taking balls off the tee."
Cage rental as well as individual and team lessons will be available on an hourly rate. There will also be a mezzanine area for adults to watch their child train or for party rentals.
"We're shooting for April 1," said Haley of the projected opening of the facility. "I'm pushing them pretty good. (South Bend Cubs President) Joe (Hart) is making sure things are being shipped and things are getting done."
Haley was a part of the South Bend Cubs First Pitch Banquet Monday, Feb. 9. The event featured former South Bend resident and longtime major league pitcher Jamie Moyer. In 1994, Haley and Moyer partnered in a youth baseball training business called Pro Sports Performance. With a portable cage and mound, they traveled around Michiana and gave mini-clinics on hitting and pitching.
"He doesn't know it yet, but he's going to come in for a camp in a couple weeks," Haley announced to banquet attendees during a Q&A session. "We're back doing what we love to do, which is provide for the kids."
Haley will also be coaching a U17 travel team called, appropriately, the South Bend Silver Hawks. The team will wear the uniforms formerly donned by the Arizona Diamondbacks' South Bend affiliate.