John McLaren is back in baseball, and anyone who knows him believes that's where he belongs.
A major league coach for more than 21 seasons, McLaren managed the Seattle Mariners for less than a year, taking the job when Mike Hargrove left in July, 2007 – then being fired last June.
Today, he's a special assistant to the general manager for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
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"I'm going to be working with a lot of young players, spending time at the baseball academy in Venezuela," McLaren said.
It's hard to say McLaren got a raw deal in Seattle, but when the 2008 season opened he had a 43-41 record – only the second manager in franchise history with a winning mark. What happened last season was a disaster for the team, and McLaren was part of it.
Still, he was a man saddled with high-salaried players he was ordered to play – Richie Sexson among them – and lost his closer the first week of the season. When the Mariners went south, McLaren couldn't turn them. Neither could the man who replaced him, Jim Riggleman.
The irony? McLaren would probably be a better manager with the team general manager Jack Zduriencik has now put together than he was with last years model.
Be that as it may, McLaren is back in the game. He'll spend much of the spring at his home in Phoenix, and will likely stop by Peoria during camp.
If so, he'll be welcome. McLaren's time as a manager was short, but his love of the game – and a lifelong commitment to teaching it – are qualities baseball never has enough of.
Welcome back, John.