Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon is assembling his coaching staff with a Tacoma flavor.
On Monday, the Mariners announced six additions to the major league staff: Howard Johnson, hitting coach; Mike Rojas, bullpen coach; John Stearns, third base coach; Andy Van Slyke, first base coach; Rick Waits, pitching coach; and Chris Woodward, infield coach.
Stearns and Johnson were promoted from the Rainiers staff, while Woodward played in Tacoma in 2009 and ’10.
Stearns, 62, had begun the 2012 season as Seattle’s minor league catching coordinator, but took over as Rainiers manager when Daren Brown was called up to Seattle while third base coach Jeff Datz was undergoing cancer treatment. Johnson, who turns 53 on Friday, spent last season as Tacoma’s hitting coach.
“There’s some advantage to having some guys from within the organization for a number of reasons,” McClendon said in a conference call. “No. 1, I think if you have an opportunity to promote from within, I think it’s very healthy for your organization. No. 2, if those guys are very well-qualified individuals, then it becomes an A-plus, and I think that’s what we have here. We have a couple of men that I think are very qualified, very capable of getting the job done for us.”
Woodward, 37, is taking his first major league coaching job. He spent last season as the Mariners’ roving minor league infield coordinator following a 17-year playing career that included two seasons in Tacoma with the Rainiers, where he caught the eye of Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik.
“(I) watched how he worked with the young players on the Tacoma team at that time,” Zduriencik said. “And it was almost like the last two or three years of his career he knew where he was going and his future once his game ended, and I think he approached it that way: He was kind of like a coach on the field. And I think that this is a very positive move. He’s a very high-level individual, a lot of energy, great coaching skills.”
The six will join previously announced staff members Trent Jewett, bench coach; Jason Phillips, bullpen catcher; and Scott Budner, left-handed batting practice pitcher.
Zduriencik said other members of the 2012 staff have been freed to pursue other options. However, Brown has a minor league contract with the organization, Datz has taken a pro scouting job in the organization, and former hitting coach Dave Hansen could return as an assistant hitting coach.
“I do like this group,” Zduriencik said. “I think it was a very nice mix. I thought the interview process was terrific. The fact that we were able to bring some guys from within the organization and then every guy here there’s a relationship with either Lloyd or myself, or in most cases both of us. So I thought that was important to instantly have some continuity on a newly formed staff.”
NEW MARINERS COACHES
A closer look at the six new coaches for the Seattle Mariners:
Howard Johnson, hitting coach
Last year: Rainiers hitting coach.
Résumé: Coached 11 seasons in Mets organization, including three as the Mets hitting coach.
You might know: In 1991 with the New York Mets, “HoJo” led the National League in homers (38) and RBI (117)
Mike Rojas, bullpen coach
Last year: Detroit Tigers bullpen coach.
Résumé: Spent 21/2 years in last job, and has coached since 1995, including stints as Detroit’s director of player development.
You might know: Rojas’ dad is former major leaguer Cookie Rojas.
John Stearns, third base coach
Last year: Rainiers manager.
Résumé: In his 39th season in professional baseball, he has served as a player, scout, manager, coach, roving catching and hitting instructor, and ESPN broadcaster.
You might know: Was a four-time NL All-Star with the Mets.
Andy Van Slyke, first base coach
Last year: Was away from baseball for the past four seasons.
Résumé: Coached first base for the Tigers from 2006-09.
You might know: A teammate of Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon with the Pirates, Van Slyke was a three-time NL All-Star and winner of the Gold Glove five times.
Rick Waits, pitching coach
Last year: Mariners minor league pitching coordinator.
Résumé: Spent 15 seasons in Mets’ player development department, with seven seasons as minor league pitching coordinator.
You might know: Waits went 79-92 with a 4.25 ERA in his 12-year major league career with the Rangers, Indians and Brewers.
Chris Woodward, infield coach
Last year: Mariners roving minor league infield coordinator.
Résumé: This past season was his first coaching position after a 17-year career as a player.
You might know: Played for the Tacoma Rainiers in 2009 and 2010.Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners Staff report