The Seattle Mariners announced their coaching staff for the 2014 season today, completing an important -- although not all that exciting -- step in putting their 2014 team together.
The Mariners have slowly been distancing themselves from the Eric Wedge era over the past several weeks, letting several of his former coaches go and reassigning others within the organization. That isn't exactly an indictment of those coaches, just the way the business goes when their is a managerial change. Seattle did promote several of their own from within as well as adding some from McClendon's days in Pittsburgh.
McClendon started this process when he named Trent Jewett his bench coach two weeks ago. Jewett, who had been the third base coach for the Washington Nationals, was McClendon's third base coach in 2001 and 2002 with the Pirates, the organization he was with as a player and coach until 2009.
McClendon's new hitting coach will be Howard Johnson, who filled the same role for the Tacoma Rainiers in 2013. Johnson was up with Seattle once Tacoma's season ended and he was previously the major league hitting coach for the New York Mets from 2008 to 2010. "HoJo" was a two-time All-Star, two-time World Series Champion and a member of the 30/30 club in his playing days.
Rick Waits, who has spent the past three seasons as the Mariners' minor league pitching coordinator, will be the new pitching coach. He spent 10 seasons overall as a minor league pitching coordinator, serving in the role for seven seasons with the Mets prior to coming to Seattle. He has obviously worked quite a bit with several of the club's young arms over the past three seasons as he traveled around the organization.
Former M's catching coordinator and Rainiers' manager John Stearns will be the new third base coach. Stearns, Daren Brown and Jeff Datz had a bit of a merry-go-round last year after Datz was diagnosed with, and began treatment for, cancer. Stearns was a former No. 2 overall pick by the Phillies and 2014 will be his 40th in professional baseball as a player, scout, instructor, coach, manager and broadcaster.
Andy Van Slyke, who was a teammate of McClendon's in Pittsburgh and on the coaching staff with him for a while with Detroit, is the new first base coach. Van Slyke was a five-time Gold Glover and three-time All-Star with the Pirates in his playing days. He was the Tigers' first base coach from 2006 to 2009 and has been out of baseball for the past four years.
Mike Rojas, the son of Cookie Rojas, was Detroit's bullpen coach for the last two-and-a-half seasons, and he'll now take on the same role for the Mariners. He spent close to a year as the Tigers' Director of Player Development and was the Minor League Field Coordinator for them for three years prior to that.
Former Mariners' infielder Chris Woodward, who served as the team's minor league infield coordinator in 2013, will be the new big league infield coach. Woodward played for the M's and four other clubs in a 17-year professional career that ended in 2011.
Jason Phillips (bullpen catcher) and Scott Budner (left-handed BP pitcher) have been retained by McClendon and will continue in their roles.
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